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Entries in Bassmaster Classic (37)


Powerful Opposition Kills Public Access Reform In Louisiana

A bill that would have restored anglers’ rights to access public waters in Louisiana was voted down in the state legislature this week by a vote of 37-59.

Proponents of House Bill 391, including B.A.S.S., the Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation and the Louisiana Sportsmen’s Coalition (LaSC), were disappointed but not surprised at the loss, said Gene Gilliland, national conservation director for B.A.S.S.

“Everyone knew going in that this was likely to be a contentious issue and that it might take several years to find a good fix,” he explained. “When the vote came to the full House of Representatives, wealthy landowners and energy companies with deep pockets and armies of lobbyists persuaded legislators from many parts of Louisiana that are not even affected by this issue to vote against the bill.”

Gilliland said the bill’s author, Rep. Kevin Pearson (R., Slidell), told him his bill was perhaps the most talked about piece of legislation in this session, and although it was voted down, it raised awareness of the problem statewide.

HB 391 would have restricted the ability of private landowners to prohibit boater access to navigable waters flowing over or through their lands. Almost alone among the 50 states, Louisiana permits private property owners in tidewater areas to bar public access to those waters and to do so without posting them against trespassing.

“Almost everywhere else, the law says that, ‘If you can float it, you can boat it,’” Gilliland pointed out.

“Louisiana is one of the only states in the nation where you can be traveling by boat on public, navigable waterways, and suddenly with no warning find that you are not,” according to the LaSC. “As a result, families out for a day of fun have been subjected to armed challenges from guards hired by big landowners and told to leave the unmarked, seemingly open water.”

Because of the inconsistencies in access, B.A.S.S. announced last year that it would no longer conduct professional bass tournaments in Louisiana’s tidal regions, including the Louisiana Delta, which has hosted four Bassmaster Classics, and others where public access is being increasingly restricted. In the upcoming Bassmaster Elite at the Sabine River out of Orange, Texas, competitors have been told they cannot fish in Louisiana waters.

Gilliland said Pearson made it clear that B.A.S.S.’s decision to stay away from Louisiana until this issue is resolved played a major role in raising awareness among the public and his fellow legislators.

“Although the bill is dead for this year, Rep. Pearson is fully committed to making a run at this issue again next year,” Gilliland said. “We hope that prior to next year’s session there will be meetings of all the concerned stakeholders, including B.A.S.S. and the Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation.

“We want to build a consensus on how public access to the waters of Louisiana can be preserved for recreation and commerce, while respecting landowners’ rights.”

The LaSC said in a statement this week that it is encouraged by the fact that 37 state representatives voted for the reform despite “powerful opposition” and little time to prepare for a legislative push.
It added, “This was always going to be a multi-year fight, and we are optimistic that the progress made in this year’s legislative session has moved up the expected timeline.”


B.A.S.S. Urges Louisiana Legislators To Restore Access To Public Waterways

B.A.S.S., the world’s largest fishing organization, endorses proposed legislation that would reopen navigable waters in Louisiana to boaters and anglers.
The bill, HB 391, introduced on March 1 by State Rep. Kevin Pearson (R.) of Slidell, would restrict the ability of private landowners to prohibit boater access to navigable waters flowing over or through their lands. It is currently being considered by the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure.
“For 50 years, B.A.S.S. has fought for anglers’ rights to access public waters,” said B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland. “Louisiana is one of the most important battlegrounds in the nation, especially along the Gulf Coast, where canals, ponds and bays that have been fished for many years are now being gated by those who own the land around them.”
Numerous Bassmaster tournaments have been held in coastal fisheries of Louisiana, including four Bassmaster Classic world championships in the Louisiana Delta out of New Orleans between 1999 and 2011. However, B.A.S.S. announced last year it would no longer schedule professional tournaments in Louisiana tidewaters where anglers risk being arrested for fishing what appear to be and have historically been public waterways. State law does not currently require the waters be posted against trespassing.
In a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament to be held April 6-9 on the Sabine River out of Orange, Texas, Louisiana waters have been declared off-limits to anglers, said Trip Weldon, B.A.S.S. tournament director.
He noted that in previous Elite tournaments on the Sabine, some anglers practiced in waters they thought were public, only to find them closed when competition began. In addition, anglers in the Bassmaster Central Open on the Sabine River last June were informed on the eve of competition they could not enter a large section of tidewaters where many had planned to fish.
Gilliland said B.A.S.S. supports efforts by the Louisiana Sportsman’s Coalition to update the state’s antiquated definitions of land ownership and navigable waters, and it has urged B.A.S.S. members in Louisiana — as well as those who travel from out of state to fish in the “Sportsman’s Paradise” — to support passage of the HB 391. “This bill is a start in the right direction,” he said.

Pearson’s bill states, “The running waters of the state and the wild aquatic life inhabiting those waters are and remain the property of the state and, as such, title and ownership remain unchanged whether the running waters flow over public or private water bottoms.” It also would prohibit anyone from restricting or prohibiting the “public navigation of running waters which are navigable by a motorboat.”
In addition, it would protect private property along the canals and other channels from damage by boaters.


Help Ryan Butler Send Kids And Their Families To Bassmaster Classic

I have fulfilled my lifelong dream to compete in the prestigious GEICO Bassmaster Classic. As a young child, out fishing with my dad and grandpa, I dreamed about this opportunity. Thanks to the tremendous support and commitment of family and friends, this dream has become my reality. I look forward to living out MY DREAM on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina in March. I will be there to compete fiercely and to win;  but I also want to accomplish something bigger than all of us!

Because I have a passion for fishing and for helping others, my new hope and dream is to use this opportunity with which I have been blessed to make other people’s dreams come true.  As I considered how to seize this opportunity, it was important to me that I partner with a charity like Catch-A-Dream that places emphasis on our youth and the outdoors.

It’s inspiring to know that the foundation has granted more than 620 life-changing  fishing and hunting trips to children and their families since its inception in 2000. My priority with this fundraising campaign is to help grant wishes for children with life-threatening and terminal illnesses through our friends at Catch-A-DreamCatch-A-Dream spends about $5,000 out of pocket on each child trip, and we want to support as many Catch-A-Dream experiences as we possibly can.

But a secondary goal of this campaign is to provide the opportunity for one child and his family, whose dream is to attend a Bassmaster Classic event, the opportunity to attend the 2019 Classic with all expenses paid and backstage access.  Though not specifically a Catch-A-Dreamadventure, this will be a once in a lifetime experience for one young fishing fan and their family!

With your help, we can make this new dream a reality, many times over!  It’s incredible when people, particularly outdoor enthusiasts, come together for a common cause. It’s no surprise that individuals and companies in the outdoor industry are compassionate and generous. I couldn’t think of a better group of people to reach out to during this fundraising campaign.  I encourage you to help in any way you can. TOGETHER, we can make DREAMS come true!

The goal is $100,000, which will fully fund 20 child trips, but I hope to surpass this amount. Please know that every dollar raised will go directly to the Catch-A-Dream Foundation to make multiple children’s fishing or hunting dreams come true. Thank you for your contribution and willingness to help MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Ryan Butler
2018 Bassmaster Classic Contender


The Future Of Topwater Fishing?

At the Bassmaster Classic this week, Evolution Baits is showcasing the new version of its GrassBurner buzzbait/hardbait hybrid. Named the GrassBurner Floating XL, this one is--- what else?--- a floater.

“The bait is designed to ride on its side and mimic a fleeing baitfish,” says the company. “Bluegill or crappie, perch or shad . . .  the sight of a baitfish in flight is too tempting a target for a hungry or moody bass to pass up.”

In addition to its realistic baitfish profile, the Floating XL features a wide blade for broader water displacement, a dual treble hook design for improved hook-up ratio, a one-ounce 7.5-inch body for added casting distance, a sturdy wire-through design and a 2X strong stainless steel split ring.


Bass Boss Ray Scott Shares Strategy in Better Bass Fishing

Roland Martin (left) and B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott in 1975, after Martin won a B.A.S.S. tournament at Santee-Cooper.

One of best things about starting to write for Bassmaster in the 1980s was that I got to know B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott. During the 1985 Bassmaster Classic in Arkansas, I shared a table with him and then Gov. Bill Clinton for a barbeque dinner at the governor's mansion in Little Rock. We've shared a few other meals at Classics and other events as well. For awhile, I was the ghost writer for his B.A.S.S. Times column. He's a story teller, entertainer, and salesman like no other, and he's also a pretty good fisherman.

I asked him to contribute to my first book, Better Bass Fishing, and this is what he provided:

Anglers never should overlook the power of provocation, according to Ray Scott, founder of B.A.S.S. and father of competitive bass fishing. That lesson was emphatically driven home to him while on Alabama’s Lake Eufaula with Harold Sharp, his long-time tournament director.

“I was fishing the front and running the trolling motor,” Ray remembers. “Harold was in the back and yet somehow he was catching twice as many bass as I was. Finally, I asked him what his secret was.

Sharp told him: "You’re making them mad and then I’m catching them."

“There’s no other fish in the world like a bass,” Ray continues, “and many times provocation is more important than ‘Let’s have lunch.’

"Yes, bass eat when they’re hungry, but they also strike to protect their territory. I’ve seen a bass hit a bait, then swim a little ways and spit it out. It’s a primary instinct.

“But you have to remember that what provokes that bass won’t stay the same. It could change in 2 minutes or 10 days. And it’s not because they think that we’re trying to catch them. They’re just doing what bass do.

“The guy who slows down and studies the fish, who can put the numbers together to figure them out, will do better than the others.”

(This book is available at Barnes & Noble, but often is sold out at Amazon, which does keep my other books in stock.)