There’s never been a late-winter, south Louisiana bass tournament spring like it in a generation. Maybe never.
Yes, there have been heavier five-bass catches, in fact several more, weighing more than 18.01-pound winning stringer Brooks Webre and Cory Champagne brought in from the western reaches of the Atchafalaya Basin.
Of course, the $10,000 they won in Saturday’s Anglers Against Autism bass tournament was big, real big.
What stole the show during the weign-in at Cabela’s in Gonzales were all the giant largemouths, fish big enough to leave old-time bass fishermen wondering when they could have seen something like what they saw Saturday.
If you weren’t there, and there was a large crowd for the wild game and seafood cooking contest and for the weigh-in, then here’s what happened.
Ronnie Fuentes and Connor Doss strode to the platform with a giant largemouth, a 6.36-pounder that would have taken first-place money from most every big-bass pot in any tournament in these here parts.
Some 20 minutes later, a hum turned into a buzz and when Chris McVoy and his fishing partner, Mike Kee, presented their catch. The place rumbled.
McVoy held up an 8.18-pounder, a bass longer than his forearm, the biggest Atchafalaya Basin bass since Gerald Rome hauled in a 10-pounder about 20 years ago (but not in a tournament).
OK, so the McVoy-Kee team could celebrate a make-any-fisherman-pound bass and count on the big-bass kitty’s $500 first-place money.
Hold on. There was more than a buzz just minutes later when Lance Amedee and Derek Wheat got in line with their catch, and when Amedee hefted a giant of a bass from the weighmasters scale, the crowd erupted at the 9.26-pounder.
“The fish hit a Spro Frog, a chartreuse and black, and it was all bundled up in the grass,” Amedee said. “I kept reeling and knew it was heavy, and I told Derek that it was a choupique (a bowfin for you non-south Louisiana fishermen).
“When Derek got the fish in the net and we were able to take all the grass off, we were in shock,” Amedee said.
Most any bass fishermen who has tackled a once-in-a-lifetime fish knows what happened:
“I had to sit down for a while. I was shaking. I just couldn’t believe it. I was shaking,” Amedee said.
And it proved to be a big day for the Atchafalaya. All three giants came from the Basin.
And that was only part of the story: Among the 158 teams, there were 17 bass weighed at four or more pounds, and fully half the field — 85 in all — weighed in five-bass limits, and most came from Atchafalaya waters, north, south, east and west in the country’s largest overflow swamp.
Why? Water is seldom this low and fishable during the prespawn, and those giant bass are usually so deep in the swamp at higher levels it's impossible for fishermen to get to them.
Other than the frog, other anglers talked about catching fish on spinnerbaits, jerkbaits (in clearer water), jig-and-pig rigs and a variety of soft-plastic creature baits, notably crawfish imitations.
What about the Verret side? Chad Porto, who finished among the top 23 paying places in the AAA tournament, said the spawn is over on that side of the levee.
“And the (bass) fishing is over, too,” Porto said. “It’s not going to get good again for another couple of months.”
And that means? When the bass spawn is over, it’s usually time for the bream and catfish anglers to get into the big lakes and canals off those lakes to look for bedding bluegills and congregating catfish.
Another cold front is on the way and will bring rain into the southern parishes Friday into early Sunday. Expect 5-10 knot west and southwest winds Friday, 5-15 from the southeast Saturday, then increasing west-to-north winds Sunday with waves elevating with the increase in wind.
Look for afternoon highs near 70 and morning lows in the 50s through Sunday with 40s Monday into Wednesday.