Bass photo No. 2

A helping hand

Beau Landry of Addis needed a helping hand to hold the five bass he caught to win the 15-18 age group last Sunday in the Junior Southwest Bassmasters tournament on Henderson Lake. After the past two weeks of rising water in this offshoot of the Atchafalaya Basin, the 31 young anglers had to learn how to fish flooded timber, and the overall catches showed there is tough fishing ahead for the next several weeks.

Now that all trees but pecans are budding, fishing rushes to the top of the list in out Sportsman’s Paradise.

But, as Lee Corso has said so many times, “Not so fast my friend!” because there’s fishing, and there’s catching, and the catching part appears to have been put on hold after March’s topsy-turvy weather has dumped cold water over most of south Louisiana.

True, bass and sac-a-lait continue to bite — and there’s been a decent run on redfish in most areas — but by springtime standards, the action is off.

Take last Sunday’s Pointe Coupee Kiwanis bass tournament. The 15.5 pounds Darren Bueche and Shane Lindsly won with is a far cry from the usual 20-pound winners folks like Chuck Ballard and Derek Lejeune have posted in past years on False River.

This year, Ballard caught small fish and returned them to the oxbow’s waters and didn’t weigh a fish.

Still, 15 pounds, a 3-pound average on a five-bass tournament limit, is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s left most of the False River guys scratching their heads about the lack of seeing beefier bass.

Now, with almost constant and cold rain, many the same reports are coming from the Verret Basin.

With the Atchafalaya River on the rise, the Atchafalaya Basin is getting close to going into its annual nonproductive stage. The same is true for the Venice area, a place that was producing first-rate bass action just four weeks ago.

Worst still, heavy rains are making mud puddles of the Florida Parishes river and bayous, and those productive bass hauls on the big reservoirs like Toledo Bend, Caney Creek and Lake D’Arbonne took a downturn on the latest run of bad weather.

Guess we can be thankful we’re not in Alabama or Georgia, and we can offer a prayer for our brothers and sisters to our east, to the thousands who are trying to recover from those tornadoes.

This is not trying to tell you not to go, just be prepared to settle for whatever the water will give you as we approach Easter and the kids having a few days for a spring break.

The freeze

The Wildlife and Fisheries staff is celebrating the results of February’s “freeze” week after surveying the waters hardest hit by our state’s most serious invasive aquatic vegetation, giant salvinia and water hyacinth.

“While the big chill didn’t eradicate the lake-choking plants, the (agency’s) good news is that giant salvinia coverage was reduced by more than 95%,” the LDWF reported, all the while tempering their observations by stating these plants’ die-off varied in different sections of our state.

The LDWF has been battling giant salvinia on Turkey Creek Lake, Lake Darbonne, Caney Creek, Caddo Lake, Lake Bistineau, Black Lake and Saline Lake, and the most extensive die-off has been seen on the first three waterbodies, but the latter four, which had the biggest problems with giant salvinia, “already are showing signs of active vegetation growth, despite the fact that most previously present giant salvinia has died and fallen out.”

It’s no secret water hyacinth is the biggest threat across south Louisiana, and the staff’s report stated, “The winter storm burned the leaves off of most hyacinth plants, and it killed many; but the remainder have since leafed out and will likely grow substantially over the next two months.”

For now, anything can help, and it appears this arctic blast helped.

Our national guys

After qualifying first in his group, Gonzales’ Gerald Spohrer finished third in Friday’s Major League Fishing event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas.

Spohrer boated nine bass in the 10-angler finale. His final day’s 26 pounds, 8 ounces earned $38,000 and he was less near four pounds shy of the winner, Ott Defoe’s 30 pounds, 2 ounces. Defoe won $100,000. Luke Clausen’s ninebass weighed 27-5 for second place’s $45,000 payout.

Pierre Part’s Cliff Crochet chalked up his highest ever MLF finish with a 14-1 catch that earned him $23,000 for his seventh-place finish. Crochet earned his top 10 final’s spot in the tournament’s elimination round.

Greg Hackney, the veteran touring pro from Gonzales, returned to the Bassmaster Elite series this year (after two years with MLF) and holds down fourth place in the Angler of the Year standings after three events, the last one ending Tuesday on Pickwick Lake.

Flooding delayed the start of the four-day tournament, and it’s a sure bet the 100 Elite Series pros were happy to leave Pickwick and Alabama two days before tornadoes ravaged the state.

Hackney has piled up 242 points. Patrick Walters of Summerville, South Carolina, leads the standings with 264 points.

Paying the piper

Wyatt Hymel of Paulina is paying for the day he baited a field for doves.

Earlier this month, Hymel was sentenced by judge Karen Roby to pay a $1,500 fine, and meted out a two-year suspension of hunting privileges, a two-year prohibition on setting foot on any national wildlife refuge and placed him on two years of probation.

The conviction comes after a 2019 case made by LDWF Enforcement Division agents who were patrolling near Convent on the opening day of dove season in 2019. The agents found the field baited and “learned the field was baited by Hymel prior to the dove hunt." Hymel admitted to placing bait for the purpose of attracting doves.

New to the LWFC

Gene Reynolds from the north Louisiana town of Dubberly is the new member of the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Gov. John Bel Edwards' staff announced last week.

Reynolds replaces Chad Courville. Reynolds is a retired educator and was a state representative from District 10. He is a member of the Coastal Conservation Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, Minden Lions Club, Minden Civitans, and Louisiana Retired Teachers Association.