Fisheries should to be restocked in time for spring’s charity bass tournaments

Lyle Johnson
Parish Council Chairman Pat Bell, left, and Parish President Tommy Martinez, right, present Wesley Johnson with a recognition certificate for being awarded the East Ascension Sportsman's League’s V.J. Bourque Memorial Outstanding Member of the Year. Johnson serves on the Board of Directors, Co-Chairs the Kid’s Rodeo and served as the Annual Boat Raffle chairman.

Well, last week I asked if anyone had been fishing in the Amite/Blind River Basin to give me a call and let me know “how it was.” My gut feeling wasn’t too good as there have been no scaled fish (bass, bream, sac-a-lait, etc.) caught off my pier on the Diversion Canal.

My phone rang this weekend and an old friend, Mike Lessard, was on the other end of the line. We caught up on the old days as we grew up just down the block from one another on Gaudin Sreet in Gonzales.

“How was the fishing?” I finally asked knowing I’d probably dread the answer. “Lyle, I’ve been four times; the Amite River, Black Lake and Stringer Bridge and I never had a bite. I was fishing for sac-a-lait with shiners and jigs. I never had a bite of any kind.”

Then we lamented for a few minutes over the situation and the gravity of the fact that the fish population in our area had been wiped out by the hurricanes. It didn’t come to me as a big surprise, but never the less my heart saddened to hear his report first hand.

Now I don’t want to leave this in a negative tone because God in His creative wisdom has fashioned nature to replenish itself and I have all confidence that our fishing will return. I’m more than sure a pair of all species survived and will lay and fertilize the eggs and life will begin anew.

I’m also very sure our Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries will begin stocking bass, bream, catfish and sac-a-lait this spring when the survival rate is strong for the size of the fingerlings that will be put in our waters. The survival rate will be good because of the lack of other fish that usually feed on small fry.

Spring is the time of the year for the annual charity bass tournaments. The 2009 Children’s Miracle Network Bass Classic will be held March 7 out of St. James Boat Club. All proceeds raised from this tournament will be kept locally to meet the needs of children with life threatening diseases that can’t afford payment for treatment.

Entry fee for adult teams is $220 and the fee for an Adult/Youth team is $145. An adult can fish with a youth that is 15 years of age or younger. The team will be competing in the adult rodeo but the youth will be competing for prizes against one another. The biggest bass will determine the ranking and prizes.

Based on 100 boat entries, $5,000 will be paid to the winners and cash awards will be presented to the top 20 finishers. There will also be a $20 fee for the Big Bass competition with 5 percent of the proceeds going to the children and the other 50 percent to the winners.

This is always a great tournament and the people of St. James really lay out the carpet for this event. Weigh-in will begin at 2:30 p.m. and there will be lots of good food and a good time to be had by all. Log on to or call the foundation at 225 765-5951 for all the tourney info.

The 2009 Dreams Come True Bass Classic will also be held March 7 out of Doiron’s Landing in Stephensville. The Bass Classic is a fundraising fishing competition held every year. Benefit proceeds go to Dreams Come True, a non-profit organization granting dreams to children in Louisiana with life-threatening illnesses, 94 percent of funds raised throughout the year go to the children.

Pre-Tournament Meeting at Thomas Marine, Gonzales on March 5 at 6:30 p.m. There will be a $10,000 first prize and a $2,500 big bass prize. Contact Gary Cross at 225- 938-1808 or Brad Rodrigue: 985-209-0722 for all your tournament info.

I’d like to take a little time and space to give kudos to my son, Wesley. He’s been a good kid and I very much enjoy our time in the outdoors together. He was honored by the East Ascension Sportsman's League as the recipient of their V.J. Bourque Memorial Outstanding Member of the Year award.

This award is given each year to their member who has given of themselves to the continuance of conservation and promotion of the outdoors. Wesley serves on the board of directors, is co-chair of the annual Kid’s Fishing Rodeo and served as chairman for the annual boat raffle that raises funds for East Ascension Sportsman's League.

Son, I appreciate your efforts to pass the torch to the next generation and I look forward to the many more times we get to spend in the outdoors together. Remember, keep the slack out and set the hook hard. So until next time, have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you.