Fishing for Tucker photo

The winners of last weekend's Fishing for Tucker tournament, from left, Cyle Tullier and Kelly Wheat, hold four of their five-bass limit while tournament emcee Lyke Johnson holds the fifth bass from the hefty 22.18-pound catch.

So, Kelly Wheat, how cold was it?

“Real cold,” the veteran bass fisherman said. “I’ve been (fishing) in the Bayou Black area for two weeks (in early February) and it’s been cold, cold enough that you wonder if anything is going to change.”

Well, something did, and last weekend Wheat and his fishing buddies, Cyle (pronounced like Kyle) Tullier and Leavitt Hamilton made the most of it.

First, Tullier and Wheat took on the big field in the first major fundraising bass tournament of 2018. That was a week ago Saturday in the annual Fishing for Tucker event, then last Sunday in a Media Bass Team go with Hamilton.

“What I found in those three or four (scouting) trips to Bayou Black was the fish were not on the banks,” Wheat said. “The water temperature was 53-56 degrees and the fish were on the dropoffs.”

Without saying so, Wheat mentioning “dropoff” meant he was fishing canals, and he found a couple of canals where fish consistently held in pretty much the same spot along the dropoffs.

“I caught one over three (pounds) and one over five and didn’t go back in that canal,” he said. “I scouted other places and didn’t do well, so when the tournament came we went back in there and the fish were there.”

Big fish, too, and their best five bass weighed a tournament winning 22.18 pounds, nearly a pound better than the 21.26 brought to the scales at Cabela’s by brothers Willie and Warren Couch, who have shown during recent years their prowess in the Bayou Black marshes..

While Wheat and Tullier anchored their catch with a 6.46-pounder, if you take away that one bass, their other four averaged four pounds — a very solid south Louisiana tournament limit.

“We fished two canals and caught the 6-pounder, a 4½ and a 3½ in the same canal and one over 4 and another 3½ in the other spot,” Wheat said. “It was the same pattern.”

“We went in there hoping for a 14-15 pound stringer, but the fish grew up,” he said. “And other people around me caught big fish, too.”

Then, unbelieveably, Wheat let his secret slip: “All the big fish came on a Delta Lure’s Thunder Jig.”

It’s a vibrating jig, something most fishermen would call a “Chatterbait,” but the Chatterbait makers don’t take kindly to folks calling similar lures by that name.

“Once we got back to the landing, everybody was saying they caught a lot of fish, and that’s when Cyle and I realized what we had in the live well and that was pretty exciting.”

Wheat said he and Hamilton returned to the same two canals and extracted a 15-pound stringer the next day.

But it was different: “The water temperature was in the 60s, and there were some fish on the bank. The fish were moving up because the sun came out.”

And it appears the waters south of U.S. 90 will remain productive. Sac-a-lait are showing up in catches there, while waters in the Verret and Atchafalaya basin are muddy from recent rains, and likely will stay muddy from rains predicted to linger from this weekend into the week.

Shoot Like a Girl

Sunday is the last of two days when the Shoot Like A Girl’s mobile range will be at Cabela’s in Gonzales.

The trailer will be open from 10 a.m-5 p.m. for women 16-and-older to handle and fire what certified NRA instructors said are “handguns, long guns and compound bows” using the new Test Shots and Test Flights systems.