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Outdoor Corner: Ascension Area Anglers host Open Bass Tournament

Lyle Johnson

Saturday is the day the Ascension Area Anglers will host their fund-raising Open Bass Tournament. The event will be held out of Doiron’s Landing in Stephensville as fishing will be allowed on both sides of the levee that gives access to Lake Verret or the Atchafalaya Basin.

Ryan Lavigne with a pair of his day 2 stringer that weighed 22-05 that gave him the non-boater championship on Lake Conroe.

The pick your partner tournament entry fee is $100, with a 75 percent payback to the anglers. $1,000 first place based on 50-boat field / $2,000 first place based on 100-boat field. $500 first place big bass. Fishing begins at 6 a.m., and the angler’s rods must be down at 3 p.m. Teams must be in line to weigh by 4 p.m.

This bass tournament is held to support the Ascension Area Anglers Bass Club. Proceeds raised from this event will be used to help with expense money for members qualifying primarily for the BASS Nation Championship and ultimately the Bassmaster’s Classic.

The club, Ascension Area Anglers LLC, officially began in December of 2007 with 12 original members. This club was formed on the basis of honesty and integrity.  Since their commencement, they have grown significantly, and in just four short years have met the club capacity of 50 members. 

Ascension Area Anglers is affiliated with the BASS Federation Nation and will continue this affiliation throughout the life of the club. They participate in state level qualifying events, with a primary goal of making the Louisiana BASS Federation Nation State Team, and an ultimate goal of qualifying for and fishing the Bassmaster's Classic. 

Two times the quest of making it to be Bassmaster’s Classic came to fruition with the help of this fundraising event. Jamie Laiche was the first to accomplish this historic feat. In 2007, Laiche made it through the gauntlet of winning the Louisiana Bass Nation title.

That qualified him for the 2008 Bassmaster’s Classic on Lake Hartwell in Greenville, SC. He finished in 38th place out of 52 of the world’s best bass fishermen and earned himself a check of $10,000 for his efforts.

That wasn’t his only accomplishment in his professional career. Laiche has fished 17 events in the BASS slate of national tournaments through the years and has finished in the money eight times, including the Classic.

The second angler who accomplished the feat of qualifying for the Bassmaster’s Classic through the BASS Nation is Ryan Lavigne. His path through was different than Jamie Laiche’s, every bit as difficult and much more dramatic.

Lavigne qualified as a non-boater because of the way the Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation assembled its state team. The Top 10 anglers in the qualifying tournament were assigned boater spots on the state team. Ryan was in the group of anglers who placed 11th through 20th and was assigned a non-boater spot.

Competing as a non-boater in the B.A.S.S. Nation Central Regional on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville, he won his division. That qualified him to fish in the Championship as a non-boater on Lake Conroe. Ryan had a good practice which gave him confidence but fishing from the back of the boat has it’s challenges.

One of the challenges would be convincing the boaters who had control of the boat to abandon their spots to fish his. On day 1 his boater was Jason Vaughn, who is from Delaware. The two worked together well, Lavigne said, hitting spots both had found in practice. They focused almost exclusively on docks. His four-fish stringer weighed 11-14 and had him in 2nd place among non-boaters after day 1. 

For day 2, Lavigne drew Japanese boater Naoaki Ishikawa, who had zeroed on day 1. Before launching, the two talked through an interpreter and Ishikawa had no issue with going to some of Lavigne's waypoints.

They started on some docks, but Lavigne said it was a slow go. He had a 3-pounder and a 5-pounder in the boat by 11 a.m. "We were leaving this creek and I knew I had a hump with some scattered stumps around it outside the mouth," Lavigne said. "I just wanted to check it."

Twelve-year-old Reid Murphy made first bow kill from 20 yards on opening weekend, taking this sevon-point buck in Livingston parish.

It's a place that he looked at last Monday and caught a 16-incher on his only cast. "I figured it had the right stuff on it," he said. "It turned out to be the deal." He finished his limit there with a crankbait. He upgraded once on the second stretch of docks and wound up with 22-05 to capture the non-boater title. 

Day 3 was postponed because of the weather which made the day a little long for Lavigne. His 34-3 weight put him over six pounds ahead of the nearest boater and he couldn’t wait to get on the water.

On day 3 he was the only angler in his boat and Ryan made the most of it. he parlayed his dock and hump pattern like a master and added a whopping 24 pounds, giving him a 3 day total of 58-03, besting the nearest boater over 16 lbs.

For his double win, Lavigne earned two prize packages worth a combined $131,820. As the Non-boater Champion, he won paid entry into the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens division of his choice, a Skeeter/Yamaha boat package.

As one of the Top 3 anglers, he earned the B.A.S.S. Nation’s Best prize package, which is the use of a Toyota Tundra truck and a fully rigged, tournament-ready Phoenix boat for one year, paid entry into the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens series of his choice, and a berth in the 2017 Classic. As the overall winner, he was invited to compete on the 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series with part of his entry fees paid. Not bad from the back of the boat.

The little ole club from south Louisiana has produced its share of professional anglers as well. Robbie Latuso and Quinton Cappo currently fish the Elite circuit with BASS. Gerald Spohrer fished the Elites and now fishes the Major League Fishing circuit. Good work guys.

It’s a great tournament and worth looking into. For all the info, head to Facebook or www.ascensionareaanglers.com. So until next time, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Have fun in the outdoors, be safe in the outdoors and may God truly bless you!