Fishing winners

The smiles tell it all for Hanson Chaney, left, and Luke Ferachi, the winners in Saturday's Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation High School qualifying tournament held on Lake Henderson. The Walker High students boated five bass weighing 12.72 pounds to stand atop the tournament's top 17 teams qualifying for next year's Louisiana State championships at Toledo Bend Reservoir. There were 170 teams in Saturday's field.

Friday’s rain comes in advance of another cold front — yes, cold, not cool — and Tiger Stadium and the other college stadia around our state will be a lot more welcoming to fans Saturday than they were last weekend. Wow! It was hot for Utah State.

Sunday morning’s mid-50s is more than welcomed in these parts, and this weekend’s cool-down means last Saturday’s hot-and-humid opening day of squirrel season came a week too early.

This Saturday will be much better: the bit of rain will dampen the forest floor, and the much cooler morning means the sweat factor will be way down.

It’s good news for the archery hunters, too. Know how we like to get out more when the temperatures drop into a more comfortable zone? Well, deer are the same way, and movement is key to success in the early days of the bow season.

Another point to make for deer hunters is there’s more rain in next week’s forecast, and that means it’s time to further fertilize food plots, many of which have been crying for water during the past six weeks. The increased moisture and the warm afternoons are perfect for the fertilizer to produce the desired effects in stands of clover and other deer foods.

What’s more, the places where animals gather for water likely will have fresher water.

Who would have believed sportsmen would be crying for rain after all the high water during the 2019’s first seven months, but rain — please, not too much of it — will play a vital role in hunting success during the next four months.

First, the forest animals need it. Rain freshens water sources and keeps deer scattered and not piled up in one area. When too many deer congregate in one area during a drought, the stress brings on the spread of blue tongue, and that disease spreading through a deer herd is not good in the days leading up to the bulk of the whitetail season.

And the rain will help the natural vegetation these animals need to begin to put on body weight to carry them through the winter. That weight, and increased caloric intake, is important for the upcoming breeding cycle, too. A healthy doe will carry healthy fawns.

Local waters

Gene Hoover’s report on Saturday’s Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation High School qualifying tournament was a stunner.

There had been a couple of reports on the run on bass in Lake Henderson about a month ago, but success rates dropped off lately.

So when he sent in the results showing the top 20 teams brought in five-bass limits in the 170-team event, and the top Junior Bassmaster team had their five bass, too, it appears Henderson might be a largemouth destination waiting to be tapped.

And young Beau Landry from the West Baton Rouge Bassmasters had a 5.22-pounder to take Big Bass honors. That’s a worthy largemouth in anyone’s tournament.

This bunch of high school anglers caught 515 fish — 500 released alive. Leading the pack was the Walker High team of Hanson Chaney and Luke Ferachi, names which have popped up in the Junior Southwest Bassmasters’ tournament reports in recent months. Their five bass weighed 12.72 pounds, a better than 2½-pound average.

Farther south, in the bulk of Atchafalaya Spillway waters, the action appears to have picked up from the near three-week lull that started in early September.

The water has cleared in most areas, and the best success has come on moving baits, lures like spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, vibrating jigs, some topwaters and jerkworms (worked around duck seed).

At the Bend

Steve Fontana took a long-awaited trip with old Toledo Bend friends, longtime Bassmaster angler Harold Allen among them, to catch sac-a-lait at the state’s largest reservoir.

He reported limits each of the two days, and said the fish are hanging deep around the old Sabine River bed — a usual summertime pattern — and said small shiners fished down to 20 feet was the key.

The pattern

The two cold fronts and the rain aren’t likely to alter fishing patterns.

It takes a lot of cold mornings to lower surface water temperatures from what was the high 80s earlier this week.

Cooling rains and cloud cover will help, but with afternoon temps in the 80s will continue to keep water near summertime highs.

Now that the sun is getting lower in the south sky — it means the sun’s rays won’t penetrate as deeply into the water as it did a month ago — we should begin seeing cooler water, but not too soon.

A new battle

Jack Payne, the Delacroix charterboat skipper and Sweetwater Marina owner, has come up with a terrific idea. It’s the Battle Between the Bayous fishing tournament and he’s inviting all high schools’ alumni to Sweetwater Marina for Nov. 2’s inaugural event.

The catch? The combined weight of two legal redfish (but less than 27 inches) and three speckled trout. Fishing begins at 6:30 a.m. and the weigh-in deadline is 3 p.m. at the marina. No live bait.

“It’s for Louisiana private, public and Catholic school alumni, and the top eight fishermen will receive cash prizes, as well as a check presented to the winner’s school of choice,” Payne said.

There’s a $50 entry fee and registration and fees can be made on the marina’s “tournament” website: