For Robbie Latuso, the Bassmaster Elite season started with a bang.
Last Thursday, the Gonzales national touring pro bass catcher caught a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 2 ounces to hold the first-day lead in the season opener on the St. John’s River out of Palatka, Florida.
His fish went south the next day, and he slipped back in the top 10 in the 75-angler field. His limit that day weighed 13-15.
Still, he remained in the top 35 for Saturday’s third round, then went swinging for the fences on the final day when the field was narrowed to the top 10. And that’s where he finished, in 10th, with a final 69-pound total Sunday.
Sunday belonged to a legend when four-time Bassmaster Classic champion Rick Clunn became, at 72, the oldest angler to win on Bassmaster’s top tour.
Clunn, regarded along with the only other four-time Classic champ Kevin VanDam, hauled in a near-record 34-14 on the final day to vault from eighth place to take the $100,000 first-place money with a four-day total of 98-14. It was Clunn’s 16th career win, and the check pushed him to a little more than $2.5 million in career earnings.
Clunn's last win came in 2016 on the same waters.
“Never accept that all of your best moments are in your past,” Clunn said. “I think this just reinforces what I said after I won here in 2016. A long time ago, I stopped paying attention to timelines.”
Clunn’s approach can be a lesson for Louisiana anglers: his explanation for the four days centered around three lures, "a big, lipless crankbait from Luck-E-Strike called a Hail Mary, a three-quarter ounce Luck-E-Strike Trickster spinnerbait with a shellcracker-colored skirt and a Texas-rigged gatortail worm.
“I thought the bream pattern was important for the spinnerbait this week,” he said. “The bass are bedding here, and I know how much the bass really don’t like the bream around their beds.”
Latuso led Louisiana’s five Elite Series anglers, all from south Louisiana.
Baton Rouge’s Derek Hudnall finished 32nd with a 38-6 total. Prairieville’s Quentin Cappo was next (42nd, 27-7) followed by Raceland’s Tyler Rivet (58th, 21-15) and Youngsville’s Tyler Carriere (60th, 21-10). It was the first Elite Series event for Hudnall, Cappo and Rivet.
Latuso told Bassmaster reporters that he had found only one productive area in practice and that’s where he said he caught what was “a solid limit early and then steadily culled up until he had a five-bass limit.”
“I got to that spot and caught a bunch of fish that were all about 3 pounds,” Latuso told Bassmasters. “Then I finally caught a 3-10. Then I caught a 5-pounder. Then I caught the biggest one and another big fish — about a 5-pounder — toward the end of the day.”
That big fish weighed 8-6.
The field was much lower from last year’s 110-angler entry list, mostly because near four dozen bass pros left for the Major League Fishing circuit.
The tour’s next stop is this week on Georgia’s Lake Lanier. Live weigh-ins are scheduled to begin at 2:10 p.m. Thursday, and will be available on the tour’s website: bassmaster.com.
Registration is open for a limited number of spots for the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ annual Father-Child Families Understanding Nature (FUN) Camp set March 8-10 at the Woodworth Outdoor Education facility south of Alexandria.
It’s for fathers with children ages 10-13. A Mother-Child weekend will be held in the fall at the same site.
There’s mandatory preregistration, and the camp is first-come, first-served. The fee is $50 for a father and child with $25 added for an additional child with a limit of two children per family. Included are meals, lodging, tents and supplies, but not bed linens nor sleeping bags.
For registration forms go to the LDWF’s website: wlf.louisiana.gov/page/fun-camp.
For more information, call Theresa Cross at (337) 491-2575, Ext. 3009, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.