Caleb Sumrall wasn’t particularly optimistic about his chances at the Louisiana Open Bass Championship, but a five-fish, 20.57-pound stringer Saturday with partner Jamie Arcenaux has the team in first place after Day 1 at Doiron’s Landing in Stephensville.
“It was tough,” said New Iberia's Sumrall, who opted to fish inside Atchafalaya Basin. “We were fishing in a highly crowded area. We just stuck it out, hunkered down and got five good bites.
“We knew the fish were there.”
Arceneaux, of Lafayette, said the team prefished the area Friday and returned Saturday morning to find higher water.
“The water was a little higher than it was yesterday,” Arceneaux said. “We didn’t find any clean, clear water.”
After an overcast day with calm conditions on the first day of competition, anglers could face different conditions tomorrow if rain moves through the area as forecast tonight.
“Hopefully this front coming through doesn’t mess us up too bad,” said Sumrall, who noted the team caught their entire stringer in about a three-hour window using mostly Missle Baits D Bombs. “We’d like to do 15 pounds tomorrow and pull this one off.”
The two-day tournament is held in conjunction with the Louisiana Sportsman Show, which wraps up Sunday afternoon at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. Show hours Sunday are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the Top 25 is scheduled to weigh-in live at Lamar-Dixon beginning at 3 p.m.
The first-place team will receive a guaranteed payout of $12,000.
Cayce Gunter, tournament director, said 143 teams launched Saturday morning from Doiron’s, with 78 teams fishing the Lake Verret side and 65 teams trying their luck in the Atchafalaya Basin.
The team of Kelly Wheat and Lewitt Hamilton goes into Day 2 in second place after putting together a 17.82-pound stringer anchored by two 5-pound-plus fish. Wheat caught the two heaviest fish in the stringer on back-to-back casts while fishing the north end of Lake Verret.
“We’re going to homestead where we caught those bigger fish and try to get some more big bites,” Hamilton said. “Those big bites really pulled our weight up.”
Jim Gaspard and Hayden Pinell are in third place with 17.57 pounds, and concentrated on fishing duck blinds in Jeanerette Lake.
“Little fish were on the banks and big fish were ready to go up,” Gaspard said. “It looks like they’re about ready to spawn.”
Pinell said he hoped they could replicate Saturday’s performance on Day 2.
“We’re going to try to repeat it and hope for the same conditions,” Pinell said.
Willie Couch III of Donaldsonville reeled in the day's big bass — a 6.4-pounder caught on the Lake Verret side — worth $2,000. Anthony Bonadona of Gonzales collected $800 for the second-place big bass with a 5.47 pounder he caught in the Basin on a black-and-blue jig.
The Top 25 teams and their weights are:
1. Caleb Sumrall/Jamie Arceneaux — 20.57
2. Kelly Wheat/Lewitt Hamilton — 17.82
3. Jim Gaspard/Hayden Pinell — 17.57
4. Willie Couch III/Willie Couch II — 17.03
5. Andre F. Cazelot/Brooke Morrison — 16.76
6. Randy Durand/Errol Sique — 16.51
7. Anthony Bonadona/Raymond Louque — 16.37
8. Trevor Jeansonne/Dwain Chaney — 16.31
9. Josh Son/Ronnie Eschete — 15.78
10. David Cavell/Corey Wheat — 15.62
11. Bruce Shockley/Michael Levert — 15.18
12. Steve Guillot/Chad Port — 15.16
13. Ivy St. Romain/Casey St. Romain — 15.01
14. Darrel Gautreau/Shelby Gautreau — 14.55
15. Brooks Webre/Cory Champagne — 14.48
16. Brett Sellers/Jason Pourciau — 14.08
17. Greg M. LeJeune/William Holley — 14.05
18. Brady C. Piper/Scott Verbois — 13.92
19. Kyle Bush/Ted Mayon Jr. — 13.52
20. Robbie Poche/Luke LeBlanc — 13.48
21. Gerald Spohrer/Ryan Lavign — 13.45
21. Jamie Carnley/Blaine Domingue — 13.45
23. Jeff McMorris/Beau Fitch — 13.44
24. Marvin Alleman/Aaron Berrett — 13.39
25. Joey Zimmer/Joey Louque — 12.90