There are days Cole Browne is staying with his grandpa Ray Schmidt that he rides his bike to Lake Pontchartrain from Ray's Mandeville home.
That was not THAT day.
And there are days when he catches redfish, but not THAT day.
THAT day was the one etched as far into the memory as can be for a 14-year-old boy.
THAT day he caught a whopper of a fish, a largemouth bass the likes of which is seldom seen on the lake's north shore.
This bass, this 8-pound, 5-ounce largemouth bass came from Lake Pontchartrain.
The just-enrolled freshman at Fontainebleau High School is two weeks removed from an afternoon sojourn to the lake with his dad, Conrad, and his fishing buddy, Myles, and Myles’ dad. He got a ride from his Covington home to the lake THAT day.
“I like to fish Sunset Point,” Cole Browne said before rattling off the details. “I catch mainly redfish there, and was looking for redfish and bass. There’s a good grass bed there. I cast to it all the time. I was using an all-white spinnerbait, because it works for both species.
“The lake is brackish (water), but it’s been mostly freshwater after the (Bonnet Carre) Spillway was opened, and I guess I’ve caught five bass at that spot, but I usually catch redfish.”
As Cole Browne related, he was staring at a display of spinnerbaits and said he had only $2 in his pocket, and there was one that cost a dollar, an all-white one for a buck. He had that much in his pocket.
As it turned out, the avid young fisherman said he caught his biggest redfish and this giant bass on the same bait.
“I thought it was a redfish, and I was shocked to see a bass nearly 8½ pounds. Shocked. I didn’t think they got that big there,” he said.
Thousands of other north shore area fishermen were equally as stunned, and it wasn’t surprising to to see how many others have found Sunset Point since that early-in-August day.
“People saw the fish and more are going there, but I know other spots, some pretty good spots, others that are just as good,” he said.
Maybe that’s because he said he spent about half this summer’s days fishing, either peddling from grandpa’s house to the lake, or to nearby ponds.
“He’s always fishing,” his mother Casey said. “He watches (TV) shows and videos about fishing. He’s learned a lot, and he puts what he’s learned into practice. He’s in high school now, a school with a fishing team, and I know he’s going to join.”
Now that school limits him to afternoon adventures — he caught the bass near sundown — he’s got the older folks involved.
“I really haven’t been anywhere else to fish,” Cole Browne said. “But we’re planning a trip to Delacroix, and my dad and grandpa are taking me to Lake Borgne. I can’t wait.”
Ryan Lavigne knows what it means to qualify for the Bassmasters Classic through the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, and knows the expense, too.
That’s why he and others in Ascension Area Anglers are teaming for Saturday’s AAA Open to help raise money to help Louisiana’s qualifiers, Patterson's Howard Hartley and Norco’s Justin Hymel, to help with eight days of expenses to compete for a Bassmaster Classic berth in November’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship.
Saturday’s event is set for Doiron’s in Stephensville. Usually this is an “either side” of the levee tournament, but high water levels lingering in the Atchafalaya Spillway, fishing across La. 70 is iffy.
“If Doiron’s has the spillway launch open, fishermen will be allowed to launch there as well, if not we will do it all out of the lake side,” Lavigne said. “We’re going to help Howard and Justin as well as local organizations such as Fishing for Tucker and Anything Outdoors.”
Lavigne said he expects a good field to show.
“We typically never really know how many because we sign up lots of guys the morning of the tournament, and this week there have been some good bass caught in Lake Verret. The area looks like it has recovered from (Hurricane) Barry.”
The local Junior Southwest Bassmasters also are holding their August tournament at Doiron’s and Lavigne said several guys have said they are going to fish both events.
There will be food and fundraising raffles near 3 p.m. at the launch, and the major draw prize is an all-expenses trip to Toledo Bend with former Classic qualifier and current Bassmaster Elite angler Caleb Sumrall.
For more, call Lavigne at (225) 921-9332.