No-fee boat launch opens in Leeville _lowres

Photo provided by JIM BREAUX The year's Big Kahuna Alex Heintze shows off the year's heaviest bass among the age-group winners in this year's Junior Southwest Bassmasters of Denham Springs. This 5.64 pounder earned him the award at the club's annual awards fete held last week at Bass Pro Shops. Heintze also earned the King Fishermen title in the 15-18 year-old age group, an honor shared with Justin Watts from Denham Springs in the 11-14 age group and Wyatt Campbell among the 7-10 year olds competing in the club's monthly tournaments with their dads and other adult anglers.

There’s good news for the folks who like to fish Leeville-area waters.

Janet Rhodus sent word that the Leeville boat and kayak launch is open with two slips for boats and two spots to launch kayaks. There’s room for 60 vehicles/trailers and she said “tons of extras.”

There’s also a fishing pier for handicapped anglers.

The best part is that this is a no-fee public launch, and you won’t have to pay a toll to cross the elevated roadway to access this landing.

Rhodus added that Phase II of the plan is a fishing reef as part of joint effort by CCA and Wildlife and Fisheries.

This is a big victory for Rhodus and the Leeville Launch crew, who pushed for this project during the past four years.

The top youngsters

Three young anglers took home 2014 King Fisherman titles when the Junior Southwest Bassmasters-Denham Springs club held its annual awards banquet earlier this month.

Alex Heintze of Denham Springs earned the title in the 15-18 year-old group with Denham’s Justin Watts taking home the award among the 11-14 year-old anglers, and Wyatt Campbell of Baker topping the 7-10 age group. Heintze also boated the club’s 2014 heaviest bass, a solid 5.64-pounder.

The club held 11 tournaments during the year and organizers Jim and Cindy Breaux promised that many for 2015.

Dillon King and Braden Blanchard completed the top three 15-18 group’s anglers with Hanson Chaney and James Nelson second and third among the 11-14’s, and Jackson Landry and Caden Sellers finishing the top three in the 7-10 group.

For the first time, the club honored the top Adult Division anglers, and it turned out to be Heintze’s dad, Gil.

For more on this Junior Bassmasters program, call Jim Breaux at (225) 772-3026.

Maurepas road reopened

It took only a week to make bridge repairs leading to the access road to the Hope Canal boat launch on Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area in St. John the Baptist Parish.

The road was reopened Wednesday.

Waters close to shrimping

After state fisheries biologists ran shrimp-catch samples earlier this week, Wildlife and Fisheries’ secretary Robert Barham signed off on a closure of most of the state’s inside waters and a part of the state’s outside waters.

The closure will take effect at sunset Monday.

Sampling showed the average white shrimp size in the soon-to-be-closed waters to be smaller than the minimum 100-to-the-pound count.

The closure includes inside and outside waters across the coast except the following areas:

  • Lake Pontchartrain, Chef Menteur and Rigolets Passes, Lake Borgne, Mississippi Sound, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, and the double-rig line in the open waters of Breton and Chandeleur sounds;
  • State outside waters out to three nautical miles from the inside/outside shrimp line from the Atchafalaya River Ship Channel at Eugene Island west to the western shore of Freshwater Bayou Canal;
  • All fishery jurisdiction waters claimed by the state beyond the three-nautical-mile closure zone.

State Shrimp Study leader Marty Bourgeois noted in the announcement that the state “continues to lead the country in shrimp landings.”

The final 2013 numbers are in and showed that the state’s near 5,300 licensed commercial shrimpers hauled in 98.8 million pounds of shrimp — all species of heads-on weight — with a dockside value of $178.3 million.

Classic roster full

Brandon Gray, an occupational hearing specialist, claimed the last spot in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic when he won the Bassmaster Weekend Series National Championship on DeGray Lake near Bismarck, Arkansas, last week.

He will join three Louisiana anglers, including Greg Hackney, the Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year; Pierre Part’s three-time Classic qualifier Cliff Crochet; and, UL-Monroe’s Carhartt Collegeiate Series Bass champion Brett Preuett.

Hackney was the first Louisiana angler to claim the prestigious AOY title.

The win also earned Gray a fully rigged Skeeter FX20, the boat he will take to the Classic set Feb. 20-22, 2015 on Lake Hartwell near Greenville, South Carolina.

Gray, of Bullock, North Carolina, used five-fish limits the tournament’s first two days to move to the individual fish-off portion that earned the Classic berth. He finished second in the Weekend Series finals two years ago and lost by three pounds in last year’s event.

He qualified through the Anglers Choice Series and blew out the competition with a 20-pound, 3-ounce total. Total Bass Addict tour qualifier Jon Griffith was second at 12-12, and Fishers of Men circuit qualifier Royce Davis was third at 9-4.

Kids out next week

A note for taking youngsters outdoors during two-week Christmas break.

With rain coming Tuesday and predicted for the day after Christmas, remember that even in moderate temperatures children are more susceptible to hypothermia than adults.

Make sure they have rain gear, and keep them dry and warm. There are enough synthetic materials on the market so that you don’t have to have youngsters wear cotton.

And take along dry clothes in case they get wet.