Outdoor Corner: Top anglers recognized by Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association

Lyle Johnson

The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association presented its 2021 Fish of the Year awards during a Zoom conference call because the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association annual conference was canceled. Two well-deserving anglers pitted their skills against the elements and the fish and earned themselves a spot in the state record book.

Hunter Breland with his 275-pound Warsaw Grouper. This angler’s catch is pending for a 10th place spot in the Louisiana State Records.

The top angler in the Rod & Reel Division was Bradley Cole Thurman of Meadow Lakes, Texas, with a 106.20-pound Black Grouper caught out of Port Fourchon. His catch is a new state record.

In the Fly Fishing Division, Jim E. Johnson of Lecompte was presented the award for his feat of landing a 1.64-pound Chain Pickerel caught in Cocodrie Lake out of Forest Hill.

Buddy Hernandez’s 16-year-old son Luke Hernandez and 9-year-old grandson Braden Hernandez had a decent morning last weekend hunting on family property near Donaldsonville.

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. Their fish more times than not would qualify, but because one or two steps are omitted when the angler thought they did everything required. Then a great disappointment takes place.

There have been a lot of changes in our fish records process. Photo ID is now allowed for places 2 thru 10 with physical ID only required for a new first place entry. All of this can be accomplished online except physical examination.

A quick trip to www.louisianaoutdoorwriters.com, then click on Awards & Records/Fish, and Hunting Records gets you to the applications page. Photos can be attached to the application, which gets sent to a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologist for ID. One stipulation is that if the ID is not possible by photo, physical ID is required.

OK, so here’s the Reader’s Digest version of how to do it. The applications are on our website as well under the records tab at the top of the home page. They can be filled out by hard copy and mailed in to the address provided. If an applicant has the ability to scan and email, the application can be submitted to fishrecords@yahoo.com.

The name of the angler, species of fish, date caught along with the 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 along with bait used rounds this part off.

The scale is next. It can be done anywhere a certified, inspected by the Louisiana State Department 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 for a first-place fish. This part takes the most effort. Most large marinas have someone around who 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 10 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 No. 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 very much, a visit to the website to get acquainted with the rules and 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.

Online payment can be accomplished as well. An application will need to be printed and filled out by applicant and witnesses and mailed when completed. Any inquiry can be submitted if a question needs to be asked and the fish records committee will always be available to assist in any manner needed.

The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association is a non-profit organization comprised of active outdoor communicators including newspaper and magazine writers, columnists, editors, photographers, cartoonists, radio and television broadcast journalists, book authors, lecturers and public relations specialists.

The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association Has Been The Curator Of The Louisiana State Fish Records Since 1940. 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!

Outdoor Calendar

  • Hunter Education Program: Hunter education classes have resumed. Classroom, online with a field shooting day and online for students 16 years or older. Website: https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/hunter-and-trapper-education
  • Squirrel and Rabbit Season: Through Feb. 28. Daily bag limit eight; possession 24.
  • Deer/Archery: Through Jan. 31, State Deer Areas 1, 2 and 4; through Feb. 15, State Deer Areas 5, 6 and 9; through Jan. 15, State Deer areas 3, 7, 8 and 10.
  • Wildlife & Fisheries Commission Meeting: 9:30 a.m. Nov. 4, Joe Herring Room, state Wildlife and Fisheries headquarters, Quail Drive, Baton Rouge.

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