SPORTS

LDWF stocks bass in Amite River

Lyle Johnson
Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries staffers Brian Heimann keep an eye on the bass fingerlings while Tracy Cloud and Andre LaFosse man the pump. during a restocking of bass in the Amite?River recently.

A couple of months after the hurricanes last year I got in touch with Mark Lawson, biologist manager with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries about the effects of the storms on our local waterways.

The prognosis was pretty bad as far as fish kills were concerned, but restocking efforts had already begun. “As soon as the oxygen levels recovered to life sustainable levels, we stocked catfish and sac-a-lait right after the storms.” Lawson then said, “Next spring we’ll stock some bass and in the summer catfish and bluegill will be stocked.”

Well, I got an email last Friday from Bo Boehringer; press secretary for Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries that informed me that bass would be stocked on Tuesday in the Amite River. Mark Lawson got in touch with me to give me the details and logistics on the process.

The fish would be coming from Booker Fowler fish hatchery in Forest Hill, just south of Alexandria off of I-49. This state of the art facility got its conceptual beginning in 1989; our state legislature appropriated a cool million for site selection and design. In 1993 $12.3 million was added and the hatchery was finished in August of 1996. This facility also has a great public visitor’s tour that’s worth the short ride there.

T

racy Cloud would be the staffer responsible for transporting the 136,000 Florida strain fingerlings from Booker Fowler to Fred’s on the Amite River. Timing was approximate because of air temperature (It was a little cold if you remember) so the truck equipped with three aerated tanks arrived at 2 p.m.

Andre LaFosse and Brian Heimann were the other two WLF staffers that assisted in the operation. Oxygen levels in the water were taken and it was perfect. Next the water temperature in the Amite was taken; it was a warn 70 degrees but the water in the tanks was around 59. This would shock the small bass so the water in the tanks needed to be tempered.

The truck was backed up to the waters edge and warm water from the river was slowly pumped into the holding tanks very slowly to raise the temperature to 70 degrees. This process took about 40 minutes so the group of volunteers that came to help disperse that precious cargo into the Amite River put their boats in and got ready.

David Cavell and Bay Tuggle, regulars and hosts of the Wednesday Evening Tournaments at Canal Bank, each had a boat and were anxious to get those bass in the water to help replenish the strained population. Chris Day and Joey Deveer from the boating department of Cabela’s made up the other pair with boats to help in the chore.

Finally the desired temperature was reached, the four boats loaded with Florida bass that were from ?” to one ?” long eased out to different locations to spread the joy. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries staffers emptied the remainder of one of the tanks from the launch and then headed down the road to a couple of other locations to release the remainder of the 136,000 bass.

Kudos goes out to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries for taking care of our waters the way they do. This group is a very professional and courteous operation making our experience a very special time that won’t be forgotten for a long time. Thanks a lot! I’d also like to thank those folks with the boats who came out in short notice to help out.

David Cavell has been having a pretty good week. He and long time fishing partner, Garret Stricker parlayed a really long drive to Venice and sacked a five bass limit that weighed 18.1 pounds and won the St Jude Bass Classic. That string got them a $24,000 prize package that was headlined by a 2009 Xpress H-18 with a 150 Mercury Optimax engine.

They used a combination of spinner baits and a Sweet Beaver plastic bait to cull through 12 bass that produced the winning weight. The long drive only gave the pair about three hours to fish so when their string had a couple of four pounders and three nice bass, they made the decision to leave not to be late to the weigh in at Lamar Dixon. Hopefully they had enough weight to get a check.

While Garret was stowing gear for the long, bumpy ride back to Venice, David walked to the back of the boat, “I saw some Roseau canes and out of instinct made one last cast. That tap on the end of the rod was nice but when I set the hook, I knew it was big.” Was it big? I’ll say, they topped off the string with a 5.91 hawg that also won them the big bass award and another $1,000 cash.

The rest of the top five finishers were; 2nd --Fred King & Roy LaBorde with 17.06 worth cash & prizes at $2,720. 3rd –Greg and David Bourdonnay, 16.12 & $2,320. 4th—Travis Lee & Boyd Gautreau, 16.02 & $2,060. 5th—Charles Puccio & Carl Militio Jr, 15.85 & $,1860. Another great tournament put on by Charles Williams and a whopping crowd at Lamar Dixon. Congrats.

Film from both of these can be seen on Ascension Outdoors, seen exclusively on Eatel channel 4 beginning on Aug. 23. Also Cabela’s and Ascension Outdoors are sponsoring another photo contest. Beginning April 9, any youth 15 and under can bring an outdoors photo to Cabela’s at the reel bar or Customer Service and enter it in the contest. The contest will run until April 30 and a really nice prize and an appearance on Ascension Outdoors will be awarded to the top photo chosen.

Great things are happening in Ascension Parish. Remember to 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.

Greg Bourdonnay holds up his big bass of the third place string in the St Jude Tournament.