Later this month is the 71st annual New Orleans City Park Fishtival and Big Bass Rodeo, the oldest freshwater tournament in the country. Divisions include Conventional, Fly, Rio and more. There's even a kayak tournament on adjacent Bayou St. John (Boats On The Bayou) for both salt and fresh species. It may be a diversified contest, but there's no question that Ol' Bucketmouth is what draws a huge crowd. And why Monday's catch by Broc Corcoran is all over social media. The 29 year old New Orleans angler caught a 9.3 pound bass in one of the NOCP lagoons using a soft plastic minnow (casting gear). After he got it weighed and witnessed, he then released it back safely. Not only is the fish a new NOCP record, but Fishtival participants have a chance to recatch the monster bass. And to recatch the 8.3 pounder that Broc caught three weeks earlier! Note to fly anglers: it's not uncommon for the park's big bass to hit flies. Check out the complete story by Pat Bonin on www.louisianasportsman.com.
This Saturday is the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club's annual Paddlepalooza, but it's also the first day of their members-only CPR contest sponsored by Masseys Outfitters. The "Masseys Fish Pics" tournament runs through next February, a departure from years past when the event ran from January thru November. Masseys really puts up some great prizes for this event. For example, Tyler Drude won this past year's Fly Division (highest total points for longest red, speck and bass) and received a Jackson Mayfly kayak. I finished 3rd and got a Wilderness Systems waterproof crate. It's so nice I'm worried about getting it wet, LOL. Seriously, this tournament is FREE to all BCKFC members. Check out the tournament details at www.bckfc.org and if you own a kayak, consider joining this great club.
Here's yet another tournament some readers might be interested in - if you love crappie fishing. The 5th annual Crappiefest takes place on March 31st out of Lake Fork. Hosted by the Crappie Anglers of Texas, it's become the largest "Big Crappie" tournament in the country with over 325 participants last year. Why so popular? For starters, it's an individual tournament. Second, there's no restrictions on watercraft. While the vast majority of crappie tournaments forbid the use of paddlecraft, Crappiefest allows you to use kayak, canoe, rubber raft, float tube, whatever! You can even wade or bank fish. Most crappie tournaments also forbid the use of fly tackle. Again, Crappiefest allows any "rod and reel combo". And don't count on veteran anglers to take home most of the winnings. With this event, all you need to win or place is just one (1) big fish. For more info, go to www.crappiefest.com.
On April 7th, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will celebrate the newest addition to their "Get Out and Fish!" community fishing program with a fishing competition. The pond at Southside Regional Park in Youngsville (also known as Fabacher Field) will allow residents of the Lafayette metro area a chance at quality bank fishing. And this winter, a chance for rainbow trout fishing! Prior to the contest, the pond will be stocked with adult-sized channel catfish. The contest will begin with registration at 6:30am and end at 10:00am. The first 100 kids to register will receive a free goodie bag. There will be fishing activities, demonstrations, and raffles. Also the Kiwanis Club will offer lunch. For more info, go to www.wlf.louisiana.gov.
Fishing remains a bit sluggish in north and central Louisiana despite a few nice catches last weekend of big bass and crappie. We're still recovering from 5 to 9 inches of rain a couple weeks back with waters either muddy or a bit milky. Just yesterday, Cane River opened back up and that will get my attention soon enough. These cool fronts and high pressure have put the fish down a bit, and we still haven't seen the redears bedding up (they usually do this month). I'm confident if we can avoid the heavy rain the action on bass, crappie and redears will be back to normal within a week or two.