Lakecaster Online

By: Sue Crochet

On May 6-7, the Bayou Bass Masters hosted their 29th annual LA Top Six Tournament on Toledo Bend. Support and sponsored by Champion Boats, Mercury Marine, Bill Lewis Lures, Die Hard Batteries, CenturyTel, Eagle Claw, the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, the Sabine River Authority, and the Assoc. of Louisiana Bass Clubs (ALBC), this tournament is one of the largest team events held yearly on "The Bend".

Bass clubs throughout the state of Louisiana send their top six anglers from the previous season to this event to represent their clubs as teams. Only clubs who are affiliated with the ALBC are allowed to fish in this event. Just a couple of years ago, our bass club, the Lake Area Lady Anglers, decided to affiliate with the ALBC so that we could participate in this unique and prestigious event.

For the past two years, we have been the only all-women bass club to fish in the Top Six, and to the best of my knowledge, there has never been an all-women team in this event before that. Although we didn't do as well in our first tournament as we had hoped, we learned from our mistakes and did much better this year. Out of 151 teams registered in the tournament, we finished in 43rd place overall. Not bad, huh?! I'm certain this is much better than we did in 1999, but what's really impressive is that we managed to stay in the top 3rd of the field.

Our Top Six team included Mary Jane Granger, Linda Dowden, Colleen Mitchell, Margaret West, Laura Moore, yours truly (Team Captain), and Alternate, Toni Arnaud. Two of our original team members, Barbara Williams and Jennifer Lesperance, were unable to attend, but our original alternates were quick to "step up to the plate". They are great anglers and proved to be valuable team members.

Prior to this event, we met to discuss what things we did last year that we'd like to improve upon. Then, we came up with our plan for Day 1 and a tentative plan for Day 2. Since there are no "off limits" for this event, our three "boaters" were able to take a couple of extra days prior to the official practice day to find fish for the team, which was a great help. This helps us to eliminate unproductive water and determine where we want to fish on Day 1.

Because teams are allowed to launch anywhere on the lake (Louisiana side only) and all of our fishing spots were located there, we decided to "trailer" down the lake and all launch at the same landing. We set a designated time to meet back at the landing that afternoon and pool our 12 largest fish (hopefully). The Team Captain must weigh in the team's catch each day, so all of our fish were loaded into one boat's livewells and trailered back to the weigh-in site at San Miguel State Park Site ... quite a hike from where we launched.

As it turned out, we planned for more time than we needed for driving to weigh-in, so this is one adjustment we made in our plan for Day 2. Everyone felt reasonably sure they could still catch fish on their spots, so our strategy stayed pretty much the same as originally planned. Fishing was tougher on Day 2, but we managed to bring fish to weigh-in. When we found out that a number of teams had struggled that day and weren't able to weigh in but one or two fish, we felt pretty good about our performance. Many of the clubs we placed ahead of included those who are noted for their bass-catching expertise on Toledo Bend, as well as very close friends (such as husbands)! If we didn't accomplish one other thing (which we did), I believe we've earned the respect of many that didn't think we'd make it as far as we did.

What's most fun about this event is working together as a TEAM toward a common goal. It's also a great way to build camaraderie among team members and improve the quality of your club. I know there are other ladies clubs in Louisiana, and we'd love to see all of you out there with us. If you're interested, you can contact me for more information. I'll be waiting to hear from you!

Until next month ... Stay Cool!
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