OUTDOORS: Louisianians love their bassfishing

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 11, 2001


PHOTO: Michigan angler Kevin VanDam celebrates after winning the recent Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans. (Photo by Don Dubuc) Five thousand kids in Lafreniere Park, more than 20,000 in the Superdome, in Louisiana we love our trout and reds but we also love bassfishing. Even though to put it bluntly south Louisiana bassfishing “sucks” right now, B.A.S.S. (Bass Angler Sportsman’s Society) the world’s largest fishing organization recently left town considering its world championship a huge success. Like any event that comes to south Louisiana, the Bassmaster Classic found we do things a little differently than anywhere else. For starters no other cities that host the event do so in a facility anywhere close to the Louisiana Superdome. The fireworks and laser light show was the perfect backdrop for the final weigh-in televised nationally for the first time ever on ESPN. The fishermen are not likely to encounter the sights and sounds of coastal Louisiana anywhere else either. Where else would crab traps in your prop be a hazard? Second-place finisher David Walker of Kentucky could not pronounce “rosseau” canes but found out how to pull bass from them. Birmingham, Ala., next year’s classic site will not have anglers worried about tugboats, shrimp trawlers and sprayed water hyacinths. And it is a safe bet the contestants there will not be fooled thinking they have caught the lunker by redfish. On top of it all the threat of Tropical Storm Barry loomed large and its 3-foot tidal surge made already tough fishing even tougher. One angler who will carry home the fondest memories of a Louisiana Classic is winner Kevin VanDam. The Michigan angler took home $100,000 in prize money and will begin to earn the million dollars plus that goes along with endorsements and sponsorships. While he was considered a favorite by fans and media, Kevin was maybe more surprised than anyone on how well he did. “It’s unbelievable that I ended up doing this well. I had the worst pre-practice I’ve ever had for a Classic. My first two areas had been sprayed and didn’t have a lot of confidence the second day. The third day was the toughest I’ve ever had in my career. I caught my third fish an hour before I had to go in and finally caught my fifth fish with a half hour to fish,” VanDam said.


Roger Boler, no stranger to the B.A.S.S. pro tour, won first place money and inched a little closer to “Angler of the Year” by capturing first place in the last Three Rivers Bassmasters tournament held on the Pearl River. Boler was the only contestant with a full five fish limit (8.20 pounds). Walter Clairain (5.60 and big bass winner – 3.20) and Jake Impastato (5.40) had three keepers each. Cliff Arnold finished fourth with four fish weighing 4.50 while Billy Hoelzel (4.05) and Danny Owens (3.35) each had two fish. Impastato is the current leader with 56.05 points followed by Owens (47.90), Boler (47.05), Glenn Tamberella (32.85), Clairain (30.65), and Billy Hoelzel (30.60). With the exception of Boler, who has only fished five, other top six leaders have fished all seven tournaments. With five events still remaining on the 2001 circuit, next up is a night tournament Aug. 18 on the Tchefuncte River at Madisonville. The Three Rivers Bassmasters is an affiliate of B.A.S.S. whereby all members have an opportunity to reach the Bassmaster Classic by advancing through state, regional and national competition. Prospective members may contact Eddie Ramon at 985-892-0234 or Danny Owens at 985-626-3111.


There is no telling how many thousands of fishermen would never have had a chance to experience rig fishing in the Gulf of Mexico had it not been for Capt. Charlie Hardison. The skipper, who was enshrined into the LA Sportsman’s Hall of Fame earlier this year, died July 27 at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge. He was 73. For more than 40 years he operated charterboat services putting anglers in position to catch snapper, mackerel, grouper, amberjack, sharks and the myriad of other Gulf species. Hardison’s son Frankie and Captain David Harrellson plan to continue operation of the five-charterboat business in Fourchon. DON DUBUC is the outdoors reporter for L’Observateur. Send outdoors news to lobnews@bellsouth.net