Brendan Bayard used two days on the waters near Grand Isle to fulfill a dream over the weekend.
When he pulled his kayak from the launch after Sunday’s final round, he’d caught a two-day total measuring 121.75 inches on a pair of redfish and two speckled trout to win the 2019 IFA Kayak Fishing Tour title.
The Baton Rouge kayak fisherman won a Hobie Pro Angler 14 for his catch, and after claiming five regular-season tour wins in his career, he won the big one.
“I always aspired to win a championship and have been close,” Bayard told the IFA crew. “But, this time it finally happened. It’s an awesome feeling.”
Bayard set the curve for the other competitors during Saturday’s first round. He caught a 41.25-inch redfish, then added a 23-inch speckled trout, a fish that earned him another $200 in the Berkley Gulp! Big Trout award.
Bayard said he caught the big trout on a topwater lure, but it was jigging soft plastics for trout and Berkley Gulp! for bull reds that put him atop the standings, despite Sunday’s slow start.
“It was pretty tough for the first 30 minutes,” Bayard said about Sunday’s first minutes. “It was dead calm with nothing going on. I drifted across some big open water casting and finally caught one trout and it was the right trout.”
That speck measured 17.5 inches, which left him the rest of the day hunting giant redfish.
North Carolina’s Justin Rienherth finished second with four fish measuring 19 inches to claim the $1,500 second-place prize. He had a 43-inch red and an 18-inch trout the first day from the marshes. His two-day total was good enough to make him the 2019 IFA Kayak Tour Angler of the Year title and a $1,000 bonus.
Florida panhandle angler Benton Parrott finished third at 116 inches form the Grand Isle area.
The remainder of the top 10 included Fil Spencer (114.5 inches), Matthew Carr (114.38), Lance Burgos (114.0), Terry Pham (113.5), Scott Bienvenu (112.25), Wayne Lobb (110.75) and Michael Kachman (110.63).
If you don’t know where Lake Batola is in the Delacroix marshes, then know you’re not looking for one place, but an area.
And Jeff Bruhl knows the “area” well enough to call with a report on the bass and redfish.
There are three Batolas — the Lake, Little Lake Batola and Bayou Batola — and all are near Lake Petit and a place called “The Garigue,” and, apparently, all are loaded with hungry fish.
Bruhl said there were enough big bass to keep it interesting, but numbers were the big drawing card.
“We had five keeper redfish and two flounders mixed in with the bass,” Bruhl said.
He said the secret was to find “clean water and grass, and then keep moving until you hit a school (bass) or a spot with some action.
Bruhl said he was fishing sapphire blue, Junebug and black-and-blue colors, and all three guys on his boat were using different colors with pretty much the same results — strikes — on crawfish imitations and flukes over the grass and in the deep holes in the grass.
Spinnerbaits worked, too.
“If you found a point sticking out from the bank past the grass line, you caught fish. It was that simple,” Bruhl said, adding the bass were “schooling like trout, and some were up to 3 pounds.”
Yes, they’re still biting in the Verret Basin, and Glenn Davis and Austin Davis showed the way in the weekend’s end-of-the-year Glenn’s Automotive Sac-a-lait Tournament.
The Davis duo put together a seven-fish catch weighing 10.84 pounds, including the day’s “lunker,” a 1.84-pounder.
Two other family teams completed the top three: Tony Smith and Tony Smith Jr. took second place with a 9.16-pound catch, and Leonard and Lynn Kleinpeter were third at 8.76 pounds.
It meant the top three stringers averaged more than a pound per fish, and showed the area continues to produce big fish.