Local Hobie Kayak pro team member Steve Lessard has won the world championship of Kayak fishing twice.

We do have a lot going for us here in Louisiana, even in Ascension Parish to be thankful for. We are known as the Sportsman's Paradise, and even with some of our problems there is no other place in the world that has as much to offer as we do.

Fishing from a kayak (or paddle craft) has quickly emerged as one of the most popular and fastest growing phenomena's in recent outdoor activities. It is especially on the move in south Louisiana. Grand Isle plays host to the world's largest kayak fishing tournament in the event known as "Ride the Bull."

Local Hobie Kayak pro team member Steve Lessard has won the world championship of Kayak fishing twice. One of his wins came here in Louisiana, the other in Amsterdam in the Netherlands in 2014. So big time competition, professional kayak tournaments are nothing new.

So it might not seem so surprising that the Bass Anglers Sportsman's Society has announced the New National Tournament Series for Kayak Anglers. The popularity of kayak fishing is at an all-time high which makes it just one of the reasons B.A.S.S., the world's largest fishing organization, has formed a new tournament trail aimed specifically at kayaking enthusiasts.

B.A.S.S. officials announced the schedule for the inaugural Huk Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX presented by Abu Garcia. The trail will feature five regular-season events in 2020 on some well-known bass fisheries across the country with a championship to be held in conjunction with the 2021 Academy Outdoors + Sports Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.

"You don't have to look very hard these days to find a kayak in the bed of a truck or strapped to the roof of a SUV," said Bruce Akin, CEO of B.A.S.S. "People are bass fishing from kayaks all over the world — and they're doing it everywhere from big lakes and rivers to small creeks and ponds.

"With this new trail, we wanted to give those anglers an opportunity to show what they can do from a small craft. The inaugural tournament will be held in conjunction with the 50th edition of the Bassmaster Classic on Logan Martin Lake in Pell City, Ala., on March 5. Classic competition kicks-off on nearby Lake Guntersville the next morning.

Other events will be held on Lake Fork in Lake Fork Marina, Texas (March 14), Chickamauga Lake in Dayton, Tenn. (May 23), the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wis. (Aug. 15) and Clear Lake in Lakeport, Calif. (Aug. 29). Entry fees for all of the events will be $250, and each will pay 30 places. Based on a full field of 150 kayaks, the total purse for each event will be $30,000.

Instead of a standard weigh-in that uses scales to measure pounds and ounces, anglers will practice "catch, photograph, and release" to determine the standings. When an angler catches a bass, he or she will photograph the fish lying on a standard-issue measuring board and submit the photo through a special mobile app provided by TourneyX. The boards will measure each fish in inches down to a quarter of an inch, and the angler with the longest five-bass limit will win.

"There will be certain criteria for the photograph to be deemed a valid photograph," B.A.S.S. Nation Director Jon Stewart said. "It will have to show the fish's nose touching a certain part of the board and the fish's tail touching a line. It will also have to show the identifying mark on the board that is specific to that tournament."

Once the photograph is submitted via the TourneyX app, a tournament director and judges will deem them legal or not and enter an official length. A real-time leaderboard will be available online during the tournament until an hour before weigh-in.

"This is pretty standard procedure for kayak tournament fishing," Stewart said. "In fact, most tournament trails use this very same app when hosting kayak events."

The Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series Championship will be held in conjunction with the 2021 Bassmaster Classic at a site to be determined. The top finishers from the kayak season will be recognized during Classic festivities.

"It's just one more opportunity for bass anglers," Stewart said. "That's what we're all about." Registration is now open online at https://ssl.palmcoastd.com/app/bass/registration/kayak/2020. Anglers must be a B.A.S.S. member to sign up.

Sometimes I just sit around and do some thinking. I'm sure a lot of us do. Mostly they are random thoughts, some of them even a bit foolish or random. But this time of the year I usually get around to thinking about just how blessed we are. It's Thanksgiving time and we have lot's to be thankful for.

It's not that we all don't go through trials and struggles. They might be financial, sometimes natural disasters, heath issues, family problems, and even death of loved ones. Some are small, some medium and some are whoppers, we all experience them.

Even at the first Thanksgiving the celebration was surrounded by tragedy as nearly half of the folks that survived the harsh journey here died that first year including 78% of the women. Yet they took time to give thanks along with Native Americans of the Wampanoag tribe.

My family is very large as I'm blessed to have seven siblings and our celebration goes back to before I was born. My maternal grandparents, Roy and Lydia Marchand hosted a family event that usually had over 100 people attending. We now have as many as 50 for a normal Thanksgiving Day.

On the menu during the first celebration was certainly deer as the Native Americans provided five of them. Fish and shellfish were a big part as well. There were plenty of wild turkeys around but whether or not they made it to the meal was not recorded.

Sound sort of like a south Louisiana sort of feast. While over 45 million domestic turkeys are eaten every Thanksgiving, wild ones will be on the menu for some families. We'll have one fried provided by my brother-in-law. Fish and seafood will find its way to some tables as well down south.

But the most important thing will be the laughter and calling back memories of great family times. Amidst all the noise, usually somebody will bring up the things that they are thankful for that usually bring more laughter and sometimes a tear or two.

So until next time, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Be thankful, be safe in the outdoors, and may God truly bless you!

Lyle Johnson is a free-lance writer, co-host of Ascension Outdoors TV and Curator of the Louisiana State Fish Records. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net.

Outdoor Calendar

EASL Monthly Meeting: 3rd Monday every month, East Ascension Sportsman's League meeting held at Gonzales Fire Dept on Orice Roth Rd. starting at 7:00 p.m. A meal served and special speaker will be in attendance.

Squirrel & Rabbit Season: Oct. 5-Feb. 29, open statewide on private lands only. Daily bag limit 8 and possession limit 24.

Hunting Seasons: Ducks: Nov. 16-Dec. 8, West Waterfowl Zone. Ducks: Nov. 23-Dec. 8, East Waterfowl Zone. Deer/Modern Firearms: Nov. 16-Dec. 6, State Deer Areas 1, 4, 6, still-hunt only. Nov. 16-Dec. 6, State Deer Area 5, still-hunt only & bucks only except Nov. 29-Dec. 1 either-sex weekend. Nov. 16-Dec. 6, State Deer Area 9, still-hunt only & bucks only except Nov. 16-17 & Nov. 29-Dec. 1 either-sex weekends.

Open Recreational Offshore Fishing Seasons: Red snapper weekends only, including Monday, Nov.11 (Veterans Day) until further notice; and, all groupers except closed for the take of goliath & Nassau groupers in state/federal waters.

Amite River Christmas on the Bayou: Dec. 7 starting at dusk travelling from Chinquapin Canal stopping at Red's and Manny's—Santa will hand out stockings to kids at both spots. Decorate and enter your boat for $25; all info on Facebook page. Amite River Christmas on the Bayou.

Need an event publicized? Contact Lyle at reelman@eatel.net