Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Ben McCormick Takes LA Opener

Athens, Al. On February 10, 2024, Ben McCormick of Shreveport, Louisiana, clinched victory at the season’s opening tournament of the LA Division Professional League, hosted at Caddo Lake near Oil City. Amid a field of 44 competitors, the event got underway following a slight delay at Earl G Williamson Park in Caddo Parish. Despite the challenges posed by over nine hours of persistent rain during his preliminary scouting, McCormick adeptly navigated the conditions, leveraging his understanding of the lake to his advantage. His skill and strategy culminated in an impressive catch: five fish weighing a total of 25.67 pounds, securing him the tournament’s top honor.

Caddo Lake, a sprawling 25,400-acre body of water and Cypress tree wetland straddling the Texas-Louisiana border, is celebrated as an internationally protected wetland and one of the largest flooded Cypress forests in the United States. It is governed by slot limit regulations, which allow anglers to keep only four fish that exceed the 14-18 inch slot. Finding a fish within the 12 to 14-inch sub-slot can often be a considerable challenge.

McCormick’s exceptional performance, particularly in adverse weather conditions, resulted in a total catch weight of 25.67 pounds across five fish, earning him the top prize of $3,400. This equates to an impressive $680 per fish. Reflecting on the event, McCormick recounted the day as extraordinary, detailing his early success in securing four fish over the slot limit and his strategic success in catching an essential under-slot fish. This success was further enhanced by unforeseen catches at another location, ultimately leading to a rewarding and enjoyable fishing experience.

The tournament’s fishing locations were predominantly around Cypress trees, with the lake’s water levels being higher than usual due to the preceding week’s heavy rainfall. This condition created discernible currents across the lake, all converging towards the spillway, thereby introducing an additional strategic element for the anglers to consider.

“It was a fantastic day. I caught so many fish today. I had caught my 4 overs very early which was a big relief at my first location. I knew I had a good bag, but I need to get my under slot fish. I had a spot I knew I was confident in, so I went there, and the first 3 casts I caught 3 fish. One of them was my under-slot fish. Mission complete. I figured why not stay here and have a little fun because they were stacked in there. To my surprise I culled out a 5.22 and a 5.43 on a location I wasn’t expecting anything but smaller fish from. I stayed there and had a blast until it was time to weigh in. Just one of those days.”

In second place Kevin Lasyone of Dry Prong, LA caught his 4 overs but couldn’t catch one to measure between 12 and 14 inches to finish out his limit. Kevin’s 4 fish weighed 19.85 lbs. His 4 fish were worth $375 each as he took home a check for $1500.00.

“I pulled up this morning to my first spot with a chatterbait and caught my 4 overs quick. I knew I needed an under, so I moved up shallow to try and catch one, but I kept catching slot fish and more overs. I also threw a senko and a lazy man. I caught around 15 or 20 today in 3 different locations but was never able to cull up.”

Holding the tournament lead for most of the weigh in was Don Kennedy of Shreveport. Don had a 5 fish limit just 2 ounces shy of Kevin for 19.65 lbs. His efforts found him taking 3rd place and a check for $1200.00.

“When you turned us loose this morning, I was at my first spot in about 5 minutes. I cranked up from there and moved about 100 yards. I was throwing a jig in some current. I caught my first one, put him in the box, made another cast to the same place and hooked another one but it broke my line. It was a good fish. I moved up to the next tree that had current and nothing. The boat had moved back toward the first tree, so I flipped to it and boom. Caught another one. There were 3 fish on the same tree and caught 2 of them. Both overs. I went to Texas side and caught some under slots then decided to go up Jeems Bayou. I had been catching good slot fish up there swimming plastics. I caught a few there and decided to throw a buzzbait. I immediately lost 2 fish over 5 lbs on the buzzbait so I put it down the threw a senko with a blade and caught another over. I think I culled one out at that point. It was close to 2:15 or 2:30 so a ran back to where I started. I caught another 5 lber and culled a 3 and came on in. That one tree had four over slot fish on it. It was apparently a good tree.”

Finishing fourth, Matthew Rasar of Benton LA had 5 fish for 19.52 lbs earning him $1000. Finishing in fifth place was Joe Fleming of Shreveport with a 5 fish limit weighing 19.39 lbs earning $800.00. Joe had a beautiful kicker that was no doubt a pre spawn fish that went 8.49 lbs and was worth an extra $440.00.

This was the first one of the year for the Louisiana division and the next will be on another Cypress tree lake on March 23rd. Lake Bistineau. At the end of the season, we will crown the Angler of the Year in this division and the top 200 anglers by points will receive an invitation to fish the 2024 Ray Scott Championship.

Top 20 Anglers

wdt_ID wdt_created_by wdt_created_at wdt_last_edited_by wdt_last_edited_at PL Angler Fish BB Total Points Payout
1 1 James McCormick 5 25.67 250 $3,400
2 2 Kevin L. Lasyone 4 19.85 249 $1,500
3 3 Don R. Kennedy 5 19.65 248 $1,200
4 4 Matthew Rasar 5 6.14 19.52 247 $1,000
5 5 Joe W. Fleming 5 8.49 19.39 246 $1,240
6 6 Scott Dean 5 19.11 245 $500
7 7 Johnny M. VanArsdel 5 18.92 244 $350
8 8 Mark E. Hay 5 17.88 243 $350
9 9 Jerod A. Keith 5 17.28 242
10 10 Bryan L. McDonough 5 16.94 241
11 11 Kasey Kidd 5 16.67 240
12 12 Zach L. Willis 5 16.33 239
13 13 Dusty W. Wood 5 15.85 238
14 14 Mike Reid 5 15.23 237
15 15 Steven Lutterman 5 14.91 236
16 16 Tim Clemons 5 7.91 14.74 235
17 17 Ryan Chip Hughes 5 6.23 14.30 234
18 18 Travis R. Beaty 5 13.79 233
19 19 Glenn L. Robertson 4 13.59 232
20 20 Eric S. Williams 5 13.50 231

About American Bass Anglers

American Bass Anglers, committed to providing low-cost, close-to-home tournaments, offers an exciting platform for individual angler progression. With the support of industry-leading companies, ABA continues to advance the sport of bass fishing.

For more information about the ABA Professional League and other series, visit www.americanbassanglers.com or call (256) 232-0406.

American Bass Anglers is proud to be sponsored by Caymas Boats, Mercury Marine, T-H Marine, Power Pole, RT Outdoors, Optima Batteries, Hotel Planner.com, and LurePartsOnline.com.

About American Bass Anglers: American Bass Anglers is dedicated to organizing affordable, local tournaments for weekend anglers while offering opportunities for individual angler advancement. To learn more about American Bass Anglers, including the Team Series, American Fishing Tour, American Couples Series, annual Military Team Bass Tournament, Top 150 Solo Tour, and Pro League, all presented by Caymas Boats, please visit www.americanbassanglers.com or call (256) 232-0406.

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