Lakecaster Online

Of bass & gals

Congratulations to JoNell Whitstine from Colfax, LA who walked (or should I say, "floated" away from the WBFA Toledo Bend " Spring Fling" Pro-Am tournament with a fully-rigged Triton bass boat! What' s that? How did I do? Well, I had to settle for SECOND! I must say though, if I had to lose to someone, it couldn't be to a nicer person than JoNell.

While I was still at work in Lake Charles, the rest of the Pros were practicing Monday through Wednesday of that week. Weather conditions weren't exactly ideal, with strong South-Southeast winds limiting areas where ladies could find and stay on fish, but temperatures were mild and the fish were biting. JoNell told me she practiced in the 1215, Indian Mounds, Negreet, and several Louisiana-side cove areas. She went on to say she caught fish on several lures during practice, but June Bug and Watermelon Seed lizards were her predominant fish-catchers.

As luck would have it, Wednesday night ushered in one of Louisiana's coldest fronts of the winter and early spring. Winds switched to the North-Northwest and were howling at 20-25 mph Thursday morning, with gusts to 30-40 mph. To my disappointment, Willie Cook, WBFA Tournament Director, decided to cancel the Thursday tournament day due to lake advisories. Winds blowing in a totally opposite direction from practice days were definitely to my advantage, because I didn't have any preconceived notions of where I wanted to start. Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans?!

Friday ushered in slightly lower wind velocities, still out of the North-Northwest, and colder than on Wednesday. The decision was made to allow trailering, but once we launched, were not allowed to pick up and put in anywhere else to fish. I opted to put in at Buckeye Landing and fished in the Negreet area. I managed to pick up a couple of spinnerbait fish before running over to the Miller's Bay area, where I was able to boat a 4-pounder. I later returned to Negreet and just before weigh-in, had a spinnerbait fish jump off, which would later haunt me. JoNell, whose five fish weighed in at 12.70# on that first day, said she decided to fish a spot which she found on the canceled tournament day, near the Pendleton Bridge. She reports catching at least 25 fish on Rat-L-Traps and Carolina-rigged Bass Assassin centipedes, and was culling at 12:00 noon.

Sherrie Brubaker (who finished the tournament in third place) decided to trailer just north of the Pendleton Bridge and fished several nearby, mostly mid-lake areas. She reports catching her first-day limit on Carolina-rigged Centipedes and brush hogs, which gave her the second place Pro slot on that day.

Elevated wind speeds greeted us bright and early on the final day, seemingly even worse than on the first, canceled tournament day. We were allowed to trailer again and Sherrie tells me she decided to stick with her first day game plan. However, constant high winds muddied up her primary areas and forced her to look for clearer water as the day progressed. I chose to put in at Cypress Bend and run across to a couple of areas I hadn't fished the day before. This turned out to be a great decision for me, as I boated 3 fish in a relatively short period of time on a spinnerbait and Carolina-rigged lizard. I later ran to Indian Mounds, where I was able to boat a fourth keeper on a lizard. My fifth fish came only minutes before weigh-in on a Carolina-rigged lizard. Tournament officials, unaware of the 10.88# catch I was bringing to the scales, were as surprised as I was when I jumped out into the lead with a total weight of 18.56#. When the women who had 10#-plus catches from the day before were unable to produce enough weight to overtake me, all that was left was for JoNell to weigh in.

JoNell tells me she stuck with her Friday game plan, working the Pendleton-Bridge area with Rat-L-Traps and a Carolina rig. Weekend anglers moved into her area, but she remained focused and was able to boat 4 fish weighing 8.47#; just enough to maintain the lead with an overall weight of 21.17#.

She says, " I thank God for giving me the strength to hang in there"; with the winds being such a major factor in her decision of where to fish. She proudly thanked her husband for the " countless hours he spent teaching me to fish", and ended saying," I want to dedicate this tournament to my mother and sister who both died in 1997, just three months apart."

On behalf of the WBFA and the Lake Area Lady Anglers, I' d like to thank all the sponsors who make these events possible Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Hummingbird, MinKota, Spiderwire, Magellan, and Flowmaster as well as the Sabine River Authority, local marinas, and many businesses around the lake. The next WBFA Pro-Am event will be held on Lake of the Ozarks the week of June 6.

Anyone interested in fishing in this event can contact the WBFA @ (205) 663-5243.
Finally, I'd like to thank my sponsors Bass Cat Boats, Mercury Marine, Lowrance Electronics, Bill Lewis Lures, Cajun Lures, Allstar Rods, Shimano Reels, Jawtec, Daniel Batteries, and Mainstream Marketing. Words cannot adequately express how much your continuing confidence and support have meant to me.


Jo Nell

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