I joined the organization in 1998 at the bequest of my writing mentor, Bob Dennie.

The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association was founded over 80 years ago to host an organization to promote the best of the outdoor writers in the state of Louisiana. We've had and still have some of the best in our great nation.

I joined the organization in 1998 at the bequest of my writing mentor, Bob Dennie. Beside his writing abilities, Dennie's photography was awe inspiring. As the official photographer for the New Orleans Saints, Dennie captured a 1st place award in the 1969 Pro Football Hall of Fame Color Action photo contest.

One of the many outstanding journalists in our organization was Charles Frank, a WWII veteran, nationally known book author and world class duck decoy carver and collector. My first experience with Charles Frank was fishing for redfish in Venice with Bobby Murray, the first Bassmaster Classic Champion.

The one that was the most famous in my lifetime was Grits Gresham. I was blessed to spend some time with him at our annual conference in 1998. He was an internationally known American sportsman, author, photographer and television personality who hosted ABC's The American Sportsman series from 1966 to 1979.

But what Gresham would be remembered by most is that late in his career he became a legend in the Miller Lite Beer commercials. Surrounded by some of the greatest sports figures, actors and comedians, Gresham won the heart of America with his hat and southern accent.

The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association has some present members that will follow in their footsteps when history plays out. In 2014 Joe Macaluso won the Distinguished Service Award. Winners are enshrined in the Hall of Fame along with the 302 current athletes, coaches and administrators chosen since 1959.

We honor our past legends, are privileged to be among those in the present, and look forward to helping create future journalists with our annual Youth Journalism Contest.

But one of the early focuses of our organization was on keeping our Louisiana State Fish Records. The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association has handled that responsibility for 79 years. The organization has had many chairmen, and I have been chosen for that task for the last six years.

Over the years the record process has been updated, and the reason for this is to keep the records pure. That means we want it to be above board with minimal opportunities for unethical applications. We want to keep the playing field even for all anglers.

One of the updates to ensure no mistakes are made was to have a biologist examine the fish to determine the correct species. We have so many different species in salt water that can't be easily recognized except by an expert. A few weeks ago, we had an angler report the he'd caught a gag grouper he wanted to submit. Turned out it was a black grouper after a biologist's examination.

Two witnesses must sign off on the application stating that they saw the process, and it was done on a state-certified scale. Those are easy to find at any business that sells goods by the pound. The type of scale and the date certified must be filled out as well.

So over the past year we've taken a long hard look at how we can make the process a little easier to apply for a record without compromising the results. We've examined the process of every state in the nation that has a coastline to compare apples to apples, then simplify what we could.

The application itself has been updated to be more easily understood and filled out more accurately. The biologists' physical examination is only required for a new #1 state record. Second thru 10th place can be done with photos unless the biologist can't accomplish that. Then physical examination will be required.

We’re getting to the place where you can choose to do it by mail or all of it online with the exception of a physical examination where needed. So here's the reader's digest version.

Go to our website www.louisianaoutdoorwriters.com and print out the two-page application. The angler must fill out their part and get the fish weighed as soon as possible. Take at least three high-quality photos; one of each side and one from the top as close as possible and still show the fish from head to tail.

There is an electronic form where you can attach electronic forms and photos that will go to one of two biologists; one for salt water and one for fresh water. The biologist will scan and email the form back to the applicant. The applicant would then attach the paperwork and necessary photos according to page 2 and email them to the provided email address. We will also add the ability to pay by PayPal so all of it can be accomplished electronically with the exception of physical examination if necessary.

We are the keeper of the records of the top ten in all categories of fresh and salt-water species. One section is for fish caught on rod and reel and the other is for fish caught on a fly rod. There is also a pond or private waters section as well. All the applications and documentation for applying for a record are found on our website www.louisianaoutdoorwriters.com.

It's worth taking a look at the records so that an angler could educate themselves on the species that are available and what it takes to get in the Top 10. Some categories are not full so a fish of any size would qualify. So until next time, remember to set the hook hard. Have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you!

Lyle Johnson is a free-lance writer, co-host of Ascension Outdoors TV and Curator of the Louisiana State Fish Records. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net.

Outdoor Calendar

EASL Monthly Meeting: 3rd Monday every month, East Ascension Sportsman's League meeting held at Gonzales Fire Dept on Orice Roth Rd. starting at 7:00 p.m. A meal served and special speaker will be in attendance.

Squirrel & Rabbit Season: Oct. 5-Feb. 29, open statewide on private lands only. Daily bag limit 8 and possession limit 24.

Delta Waterfowl/BR Chapter Banquet: Nov. 6 at 5:30 p.m., at the L'Auberge Casino, Baton Rouge. Email Jonathan Walker: jwalker@mmcre.com. Website: deltawaterfowl.org.

Fall Catch-&-Eat Fly Fishing Trip: Nov. 8-10—Red Stick Fly Fishers marsh fishing trip along La. 1. Registration required. Saturday evening gathering and fish/shrimp/veggie fry - Golden Meadow Must be member of RSFF or other fly fishing club to participate. Call Randy Leonpacher at 225-769-1895. Website: rsff.org.

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