While it turned out to be a grand time for three fishermen, the week spent on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell didn’t produce for three Louisiana anglers.

Howard Hartley, of Patterson, and Justin Hymel of Norco were Louisiana’s qualifiers in their respective Boater and Nonboater division for the three-day B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.

Jason Pittman, the longtime Covington bass competitor, qualified through Mississippi tournaments for the 112-angler field (56 in each division) representing 46 states and 11 foreign countries.

Pittman finished 19th in the Boater Division with a two-day, 10-bass, 17-pound, 10-ounce total. Hartley ended in 48th place with 11-14, and Hymel was 32nd with 11-10.

The field was trimmed to the top 10 anglers after Friday’s second round, and Cody Hollen, a 35-year-old from Beaverton, Oregon, came from sixth place to take home the first-place’s $20,000 and an all-important berth in the 2020 Bassmaster Classic — the 50th Classic — set for Lake Guntersville in Alabama in March.

Hollen’s 32-12 total led an improbable list of the tournament’s top three anglers earning a Classic spot. Spokane Valley, Washington’s Taylor Smith finished second at 31-7, and Newfields, New Hampshire's Cam Sterritt had 31-2 for third place. It was the first time a Nation angler from the Deep South did not qualify for the Classic.

Then, Sunday, came news that the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society plans to expand the B.A.S.S. Nation in 2020.

The plan is to ditch the three-regional concept and expand it to five next year with Southeast, Western, Central, Northeast and Northern regional to send each states’ qualifiers to the 2020 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship set next November on Pickwick Lake near Florence, Alabama.

The regional schedule begins Jan. 29-31 on Lake Okeechobee in Florida, then goes to Nevada’s Lake Mead for the April 29-May 1 Western Regional.

Louisiana gets into the picture with the Central Regional on Toledo Bend on May 28-30 followed by the June 24-26 Northeast Regional on Lake Erie/Presque Isle Bay in Pennsylvania, with the finale set Aug. 26-28 for the Northern Regional on Lake Vermillion in Minnesota.

The Nation Championship will send the top three anglers from both Boater and Nonboater divisions to the 2021 Academy Sports Bassmaster Classic.

A must see

If you get the Outdoor Channel, then tune-in at 6 p.m. Friday for the Major League Legends’ hour-long special pitting legendary bass fishermen Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston, Roland Martin, and Bass Pro Shops’ Johnny Morris against Major League Fishing’s superstars Kevin VanDam, Edwin Evers, Ott DeFoe and Tim Horton.

The anglers will follow the MLF format — catch, weigh and release. As each fish is caught, it's weighed and any bass weighing at least one pound is counted in each man’s one-day total.

The angler/co-anglers pairings: VanDam-Morris, Evers-Dance, DeFoe-Houston, and Horton-Martin. The show will air again Saturday (3-4 p.m.) and Sunday (6-7 a.m.)


Three Texas men face fines of more than $4,500 and jail time after Wildlife and Fisheries’ Enforcement Division agents found them in possession of well over the limit of red snapper.

Acting on information from federal sources and Fourchon Harbor police, agents cited Yoshio Perez, 30; Victor Martinez, 56; and, Daniel Acosta, 62. The citation stated, “having over the limit of red snapper, taking red snapper during a closed season, possessing undersized red snapper, intentional concealment of fish, failing to keep saltwater fish intact and fishing without recreational non-resident basic fishing and saltwater fishing licenses.”

The report further stated 35 red snapper, 25 of them less than the minimum 16-inch size limit, and another 64 red snapper filets hidden under bags of iced-down shrimp in their ship’s hole. The red snapper were seized and donated to a local charity.

In addition to fines, the men face jail time up to 15 months, and $1,773 in civil restitution penalties.