Bass photo

Luke Clark, of Denham Springs, holds two of the heaviest bass from his five-bass catch to win the 11-14 year-old age group and the overall heaviest stringer from last Saturday's Junior Southwest Bassmasters Club's foray into the Atchafalaya Basin. Clark's five bass weighed 9.7 pounds. He edged the 15-18 age group winner, Zachary's Gage Collins, whose five bass weighed 9.66 pounds.

Sometime this week, President Donald Trump will sign the The Great American Outdoors Act, and it’s a big deal — a really big deal for sportsmen — sportswomen and sportskids across our country.

The short version was outlined by Interior Department boss David Bernhardt: “In March, President Trump called on Congress to stop kicking the can down the road, fix the aging infrastructure at our national parks and permanently fund conservation projects through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.”

The bill ran through the Senate first — introduced by Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado — and passed with 73 votes, then, last week, cleared the House 310-107.

Bernhardt said this move provides permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. By fully funding, all Americans, especially hunters, will have access to what had been landlocked public lands.

There’s more: this $9.5 billion (over five years) act goes much further. It makes $3 billion available to wipe out the backlog of maintenance and enhancement projects on Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service lands through the act’s National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund.

It’s little wonder Gardner’s bill received so much support from sporting organizations like the National Wild Turkey and Rocky Mountain Elk foundations, Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Safari Club International, among others.

During these hard times, the added blessing will be these monies are expected to create as many as 100,000 jobs similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps established by the U.S. in 1933 to help workers earn a fair wage by working on just such projects during the Great Depression.

Oh, these kids

If any freshwater angler needed more to send them to the fishing gold mine that is now the Atchafalaya Basin, then the 28 Junior Southwest Bassmasters youngsters who competed last weekend should be evidence enough.

Of the 28, there were 19 five-bass limits brought to the scales at the Belle River public landing, and the not-so-wet-behind-the-ears winners in each of the three age groups had five fish.

OK, so the size wasn’t there. Luke Clark of Denham Springs toted the 9.7-pound overall winning stringer from the 11-14 year-old age group. Gage Collins of Zachary, the winner in the 15-18 group, was close at 9.66 pounds; and old-timer Will Major’s 11.63-pound catch, tops in the Adult Division, barely clipped the 2-pound-per-fish average.

It was the almost constant action that’s the draw in the vast swamp: Club bossman Jim Breaux reported 121 bass were weighed, and “most of the fish were caught on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, Speed Craws, worms, creature baits and punching baits into heavily matted grass and hyacinth.

To get a youngster involved, call Breaux at (225) 772-3026.

The downer was Tropical Storm Hanna and all the easterly winds that came with her. An east wind is OK most places, but too much and sustained east winds can cause problems, especially in freshwater and coastal areas east of the Mississippi River.

Water stacking up in places like the MRGO, Lake St. Catherine and throughout the Pontchartrain Basin means we need to wait a day or two for the fish to get reoriented to their prime feeding locations.

It’s pretty much the same in the Verret and Atchafalaya basins. Rising water and rain slows down the bite no matter where you are, and east winds are predicted to linger through Monday. After that, the forecast is a switch to the southwest, then to the west for the rest of this week.

Lottery dove hunt

Friday is the deadline for applying for Elbow Slough Wildlife Management Area’s lottery dove hunts.

Applications are available only on Wildlife and Fisheries’ website: la-web.s3licensing.com. Find the “Lottery Applications” tab, then update or create a customer record, then submit an application.

There is a $5 application fee and a $2 transaction fee per application. Need more? Call David Hayden at (318) 487-5353 or email: dhayden@wlf.la.gov.

Snapper update

Through July 12, LA Creel data shows Louisiana’s recreational fishermen have taken 535,887 pounds (68%) of our state’s 784,332-pound allocation.

And, if you’re heading our for the next Friday-through-Sunday season, know the amberjack season reopens Saturday.

For a breakdown of the weekly catches, go to the LDWF website: wlf.louisiana.gov/page/red-snapper

A demain, mes amis

Believe it or not, this year marks the 50th year writing for the newspapers owned by Capital City Press.

Knowing most of those millions of keystrokes have been read by those born with proclivity to produce testosterone, it’s time to appeal to those clinging to the idea they are indestructible.

Come on guys, wear a mask when you’re around others. You might be indestructible, but others around you aren’t.