Outdoor Corner: Don't Cook a Record Fish!

Lyle Johnson
This sort of brings things into perspective. Jude Primes is next to the whopping 363.38-pound Warsaw Grouper he landed while fishing out of Fourchon.

The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association presented its 2017 Fish of the Year awards during our annual conference in Gonzales. Two well deserving anglers pitted their skills against the elements and the fish and earned themselves a spot in the state record book.

It was a tough decision in the rod and reel division. A Warsaw Grouper weighing over 383 pounds took over 1st place and was certainly a world-class fish to consider. A new state record 41-pound Blackfin Tuna was in the running as well. But the top vote getter was Chris Legrand’s 140-pound Greater Amberjack that took over as a new state record.

The 2017 Fly Fishing award was earned by Michael Lee Clark of Hanahan, South Carolina. He won the award for his feat of landing a 9.66 Sheepshead caught at the MRGO.

These two fish were caught many miles apart, and the two anglers had very different battles on the end of their lines. But they did have one thing in common; they took the time to meet all the requirements to register their fish for the state record book, kept by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association.

Unfortunately, not all cases turn out this way. More times than we like to see, folks don’t meet all the requirements needed to certify the catch. The angler may have thought they did everything required, and their fish would qualify. But because one or two steps are omitted, great disappointment takes place.

The most recent application sent in was by Jude Primes from Prairieville. He was fishing with Captain Jamie Gaspard out of Fourchon. His line was baited with squid, and like most anglers the anticipation of setting the hook after a strike was pretty intense.

But nobody on the boat was expecting what happened next. After a grueling battle between angler and fish, Primes brought a 363.38-pound Warsaw Grouper to the gaff. It took a little assistance from me as the Fish Records Curator and the application was processed. After the 30 day waiting period is over, Jude Primes will hold the 2nd place spot in the Louisiana State Record book.

OK, so here’s the Reader’s Digest version of how to do it. The applications are on our website at under the records tab at the top of the home page. They must be filled out by hard copy and mailed in to the address provided.

The name of the angler, species of fish, date caught, weight, length, and where the fish was caught is first in line. Next, if the fish was caught offshore, the name of the boat, captain, and the port where the boat landed is needed. The type of rod, reel, line pound test, and bait used rounds this part off.

The scale is next. It can be done anywhere a certified, inspected by the Louisiana State Dept. of Agriculture scale is located. A grocery store, marina, or even a seafood dock, or a tournament weigh-in location; the location doesn’t matter as long as the scale is certified by the state. All that’s needed is where you weigh it, name and model, digital or standard along with the certification number, and inspection date.

The applicant’s information is next. Then, two witnesses need to sign and supply their info as well. The bottom of page one is reserved for the biologist’s documentation. This part takes the most effort. Most large marinas have someone around that knows who to call, and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries can be contacted as well.

If it’s on the weekend or after hours, the catch will have to be refrigerated or frozen until a biologist can be reached. If you’re in the Grand Isle area or nearby, the Marine Lab has several biologists there and can be reached at 985-787-2163. The biologists are very accommodating, as this is part of their job. It just takes a little effort.

The records are separated by fresh water and salt water as well as rod and reel and fly rod. There is even a pond section for a few species although pond fish are not eligible for Fish of the Year as they are private waters.

Not all the categories have ten entries, so all one would need to do is catch one and enter the fish to qualify. Some are new categories and have very few entries, and none of the pond divisions are full.

Louisiana is the only state in the nation that keeps the “Top Ten” fish records. All the other states only keep #1. We also have the most categories and species that are taken under consideration for the record book as well. New species are introduced into the records as requested by our anglers.

Our intention is to help everybody who catches a fish that would qualify for a record get through the process. The application is self-explanatory, but it is my privilege to assist anyone that has any questions.

If you fish often, a visit to the website to get acquainted with the rules and to check out the records would be a great way to spend a little time and find out what’s going on. You never know, you just might land a fish that would put you in the “Top Ten!” Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Until next time, have fun in the outdoors, be safe, and may God 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

Outdoor Calendar

EASL Monthly Meeting: 3rd Monday every month, East Ascension Sportsman’s League meeting held at Chef KD’s on Hwy 74, starting at 7 p.m. A meal served and special speaker will be in attendance.

Ducks Unlimited Banquet: Sept 6—Annual DU Banquet held at Lamar Dixon Expo Center 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. Call Paul at 504-481-0878 or Alden at 225-235-1062 for info.

AO Kids Fall Fest: Sept 15—Anything Outdoor Helping Kids Fall Fest fundraiser will be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall. $5 entry. Food & drinks, silent auction, a blood drive vendor booths and plenty of fun for the kids. A cook-off for mini & reg. pot jambalaya along with four live bands, including Kenny Cornett, will perform as well. Find them on Facebook for all the info.

CCA Ascension Banquet: Sept 20—Lamar Dixon Expo Center starting at 5:30 p.m. for social gathering. Dinner and auction to follow. Contact Nolan Rynerson at 225-952-9200 or

National Hunting & Fishing Day: Sept 22—8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Waddill Outdoor Education Center, 4212 North Flannery Road in Baton Rouge. Attendees have the chance to try their skills at the shooting ranges, fishing ponds, and boating activities, as well as learn about wildlife with live animals. Call 225-765-2927.

Delta Waterfowl Banquet: November 2 at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center starting at 6 p.m. with dinner starting at 7:30. Contact Kristen Latiolais at 225-315-3023 or email