Brooke Morrison and Andre Cazelot knew they had their work cut out for them.
Nearly two pounds behind first-day leaders Luke Billiu and Ryan Young, Morrison and Cazelot said they were sure about where they were going, but had their fingers crossed about what they were going to find when they got there.
The two teams, and the other 23 teams that survived the first-day test in the annual big-money Louisiana Sportsman Bass Championship, were gunning for the $12,000 first-place money, a prize that could keep them in bass tournaments for a long time.
Like the other 24 teams, Morrison and Cazelot wondered what all the increasingly strong winds through a sunshiny Saturday would do to the spot that produced a first-day, five-bass, 16.31-pound total. They didn’t have to wonder long.
After making Sunday’s one-hour-long ride west from Doiron’s Landing in Stephensville to Jeanerette Lake near Fausse Point on a cloudy, chilly morning, Cazelot said they lost their first fish, a 3-pounder, didn’t have another bite for an hour, then decided to hit a spot in Jeanerette that they scouted but didn’t touch Saturday.
Morrison, a solid south Louisiana tournament fisherman, said he pitched a June Bug-colored Brush Hog into a spot, felt the strike and hauled in the tournament’s big momma, an 8.34-pound bass, their first fish of the day.
Cazelot said minutes later, another Brush Hog produced a 6-pounder for him.
“Those two fish, 14 pounds, and we figured it was our tournament to win,” Cazelot said late Sunday at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center, where the annual Louisiana Sportsman Show was wrapping up a four-day run.
They added three more solid bass, two more on a Brush Hog and another on a Humdinger spinnerbait to finish with a whopping 21.82-pound stringer that shot them to the win, the 12-grand and another 2-grand for their 8-plus pounder.
Kevin Voisin and Bill McCarty held second place with a 13.72 second-day catch and a 31.43 total.
Showing the vagaries of the weather, Billiu and Young brought in one bass and finished 18th.
“That’s the first time in a tournament that I’ve every laid off fish on the first day to fish an area the second day,” Morrison said. “We knew we had to save some fish to have a chance, and it paid off this time.”
Cazelot said there were at least three other tournament boats in the lake, and that they lost several more fish during Sunday’s round that could have produced a 25-pound sringer.
“It’s really a January, February, March lake, a lake that’s good for a couple of years, then isn’t productive for several years,” Morrison said. “We hit it just right.”
The annual Children’s Miracle Network Bass tournament allows anglers to fish any open, public waters as long as they check out early and arrive at the St. James Boat Club by the 3 p.m. check-in time.
Brett Sellers and Jason Pourciau knew their run wouldn’t leave much time — they ran to Alexandria and fished Pool 2 on the Red River — and made it back in time to collect top money for their 18.24-pound five-bass stringer and their 5.12-pound big bass.
Dennis Tietje was the only one of four Louisiana anglers to make it to the Bassmaster Elite 2013 opener’s final 12-angler day, but failed to catch a bass and finished 12th. Texan Todd Faircloth took the $100,000 first-place money with a four-day 49-pound, 6-ounce total from the Sabine River.
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