It’s Bass Week in south Louisiana.
It began Sunday morning with the 40-year-old-plus Kiwanis Bass tournament on False River, continues Friday with the opening round of the three-day Bassmaster Classic, and ends Saturday with the 74th annual Big Bass Rodeo and Fishtival in New Orleans’ City Park.
As do most late-winter bass tournaments, the Kiwanis event always seems to contend with the effects of Mother Nature’s last cold-weather blast.
The anglers showing up at Morrison Parkway in New Roads had to contend with lower temperatures and a rising barometer, conditions that generally give largemouths a case of lockjaw.
Somehow, this year, that doesn’t matter much because most of them showed up to remember Gene Andre, a guy who loved to fish False River, who battled to restore this oxbow lake to a must-fish location, and who, everyone who knew him, knew he would help his neighbors. Yes, Andre’s heart was as big as the giant of a man he was.
He lost his years-long battle with cancer earlier this year, and the outpouring of heartfelt condolences to his wife, Jeanie, and his family and friends was so widespread — and loud — that it was heard far beyond his south Louisiana home.
Weigh-in is set for 3 p.m. at the Morrison Parkway public landing in New Roads.
There’s a rooting interest in this year’s Bassmaster Classic, because two south Louisiana guys are in the 55-angler field taking to the Tennessee River out of Knoxville, Tennessee, this week.
Greg Hackney has too many Classic appearances to count. He calls Gonzales his hometown and it would be more than deserving if he hoisted the Classic trophy and carried home the $300,000 top prize next Sunday.
Tyler Rivet, of Raceland, is a Classic rookie who’s coming off a big win in the Bassmaster Elite Series to open the 2023 season, and added another top-10 finish in the second series tournament earlier this month.
And, if you include Keith Poche in the group, it’s OK because the south Louisiana-born and former Northwestern State athlete now calls Montgomery, Alabama, home.
If you’re thinking about traveling to Knoxville, then know the Friday-Sunday takeoffs are set for 7:15 a.m. from Volunteer Landing in downtown Knoxville with daily weigh-ins (available on bassmaster.com) set for Thompson-Boling Arena near 4:15 p.m. each day.
About the only downside to this year’s Classic is Kevin VanDam, the four-time Classic champ, is not in the field. The guy who won two Classics held in New Orleans, announced he’ll retire this year. He left the B.A.S.S. tour to compete on the Major League Fishing circuit.
Big Bass Rodeo
With history on its side, the Big Bass Rodeo, the oldest freshwater fishing event in our country, has expanded beyond catching hefty largemouths by adding a student-only Battle of the Bass (school-based 7th-12th graders), Boats on the Bayou for kayaks and other non-motorized boats held on on Bayou St. John.
The catch-and-release, fishing-from-the-bank Big Bass Rodeo is held on the City Park lagoons in New Orleans. There’s a special division for the 12-and-younger set with categories for the heaviest bass or heaviest cichlid (Rio Grande perch) and bluegill.
The Fishtival is free and runs 9 a.m.-noon in front of Cafe du Monde on Dreyfous Avenue. It features educational and hands-on activities for kids and music.
There are fees to compete. Go to the rodeo’s website: bigbassfishingrodeo.com
West duck season
Earlier this month, the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission amended the proposed 2023-2024 duck season’s second and third splits in our state’s West Waterfowl Zone. The move also changed dates for all other migrating waterfowl.
The new proposed duck-season dates are Nov. 11-Dec. 3, 2023, Dec. 11, 2023-Jan. 7, 2024 and Jan. 13-Jan. 21, 2024. Youth and veterans weekend (Nov. 4-5, 2023) were not changed. Changes in the goose seasons are posted on the Wildlife and Fisheries website: wlf.louisiana.gov/resources/category/commission-action-items.
Final approval of the 2023-2024 hunting season’s amendments are set for the May 4 commission meeting in Baton Rouge.
A public hearing on all amendments is set for 10 a.m. April 20 at the state Wildlife and Fisheries headquarters on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge. Public comment on amendments will be accepted through 4 p.m. May 3 to Tommy Tuma, LDWF Wildlife Division, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898-9000, or by emai at email@example.com.