OUTDOOR CORNER: LOWA’s essay contest entries recalls Kennedy’s world record red snapper

Lyle Johnson
Samuel Bergeron and Trent LeBlanc are seen with a hamper of crabs caught with their fathers in Lake Maurepas recently.

Top on the agenda for today is the remainder of the Louisiana Outdoor Writer's Association Youth Journalism winners. Last week, we saw the winners of the photograph section. This week, the essay winners.

Winners in the Junior Essay Division were; first place, Madeleine Juneau, 11, of Baton Rouge, for "Sammy Gone Fishin;” second place, Kelby Greene, 11, from Covington, Untitled piece; third Place, Ashley Davis, 12, Covington, for "Everything Eats Shrimp;” and honorable mention went to Tristen Kyle Ebarb, 12.

Noble.

Taking first place honors in the Senior Essay Division was Bristie Smith,17, from St. Scholastica Academy in Covington for “Encountering the Wonders of the Wilderness.” Second place went to Addie Ritter, 14, from Episcopal High in Baton Rouge for “Caught in the Moment.” Taking third place was multiple time winner Amanda Wolf, 15, homeschooled for her story “Hidden Canyon Hike.”

Honorable Mention went to Ascension Parish’s own Cody Braud for his story about his grandfather, “Doc” Kennedy. Cody sent his entry through the Weekly Citizen and I’d like to encourage our young people to participate in this premier event sponsored by the Louisiana Outdoor Writer's Association next year. Along with the honors and presentations at our annual conference, prizes of $150 for first place, $100 for second place, $50 for third place and $25 for honorable mention are awarded.

Reading Cody’s piece almost brought a tear to my eye. Long before he was born a bunch of young men got the privilege of fishing with “Doc” on his charter boat, the Wahoo. I was one of them many times over.

I can still hear the short, gray-haired man sitting on the bridge, just laughing at the “fools” from Ascension Parish in our attempts to catch a billfish every summer or fill the big ice chest with white trout and croakers as we fished the Gulf’s many oil rigs. The stories he told us of his fishing days on the Gulf will be long remembered.

Every year the Louisiana Outdoor Writer's Association looks over all the entries for the Louisiana Fish Records (which we are the keepers) to see if any are deemed worthy of our Fish of the Year award.

Our selection for 2008 is William “Ricky” Ruffin of Bay Springs, MS. He was chosen for the Fish of the Year award due to his catch of a 30.60 lb Marbled Grouper (Epinephelus inermis) in February of 2008. Not only was this catch a new state first place record, but is also potentially a new International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world record.   Ruffin will be presented with his award at our LOWA annual convention awards banquet, Oct. 17 in Lake Charles at the Richmond Suites.

Each year the LOWA Fish Records Committee selects anglers from the submitted records from the previous year to be nominated for the Fish of the Year. Nominees are then closely reviewed and a vote is taken. The Fish Records Chairman then announces the winner to the Executive Director and membership. Awards are presented in both Rod & Reel and Fly Fishing although in some years, as is the case this year, only one award will be presented, as no eligible or outstanding catches were made in the Fly Fishing Division for the year 2008.

For further contact information you can email the fish records chairman at: fishrecords@yahoo.com or you can email Mr. Ruffin at: attywrr@bayspringstel.net.

LOWA has been the curator for the state fish records since the 1940’s. For further information concerning the records you email the fish records chairman at the above listed email address. You can also view the current records and download applications (Rod and Reel as well as Fly Fishing) and rules at the following site: www.laoutdoorwriters.com.

Come join me at Cabela’s on September 26 from noon until 4 p.m. for the “Gear Up” event put on by Child Services and CASA. I’ll be teaching a fishing seminar from 1:30 - 3 p.m. on “How to Learn to Catch Fish”. I’ll be giving out all my secrets on how to catch bass in the Blind River/Amite River Basin.

Hot off the press. Ascension Outdoors, seen exclusively on EATEL FiberEdge TV on channel 4 is now on the web. It can be viewed at myoutdoortv.com. 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.

Cody Braud’s award winning essay on his grandfather “Paw Paw Doc:”

In 1996, when I was only two years old, my Paw Paw Doc Kennedy caught a fish that had the world talking. A new world record Red Snapper weighing an incredible 50 pounds 4 ounces! Newspapers around the country posted this top story everywhere.

Although he passed away in 2000, he hasn’t been forgotten. Today, I have the privilege of telling people that my Paw Paw caught the world record Red Snapper. Now when I see someone who thinks they have caught a pretty big Red Snapper, I get to tell them what a big Red Snapper really is.    

I never stop thinking of him and his fish especially when I round the corner to my room where it is mounted on the wall. We have kept lots of newspaper articles featuring his top catch and now that I’m older I read them once in a while. I love opening the 1996 edition Guinness World Record Book and seeing my Paw Paw and his fish next to his autograph that he signed while in the hospital.   

My family and I love to go offshore fishing and I try to follow in my Paw Paw’s footsteps. My biggest Red Snapper weighed about 28 pounds and it was really hard to reel in. I can’t imagine my Paw Paw reeling in two fish that weighed 50 pounds. That’s right, he actually had two record qualifying fish on his line, but only one made it to the top.

Today I still can’t believe that we have the world record fish in our living room. What makes me really happy is that the record hasn’t been broken. My dream is to see the record stand forever and hopefully no one, not even me, will to break it.