It’s all about learning every day for high school bass angler
Levi Thibodeaux’s father, Erik Thibodeaux of Chackbay, said in so many words a few weeks ago about his son’s bass fishing success: It’s all about learning, every day, on and off the water.
For example, the elder Thibodeaux said, the boy he took in his boat for the first time at age eight yearned to learn how to catch big bass on what became an annual spring trip to Lake Fork in Texas. Levi Thibodeaux was 13 when he hooked and boated his personal best bass, a 10.02-pounder at Lake Fork.
He also learned from his mistakes. At the two-day Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School National Championship at Chickamauga Lake in July 2021, Thibodeaux located a large number of good-sized bass, drew a late takeoff number and didn’t take into consideration how late he’d get to his fishin’ hole with 309 boats.
“We learned it too late. He was on early fish and didn’t realize they’d have 300 boats. They bit from 7 to 8 a.m. He didn’t get to fish till 8:15. He learned to find a place close to the landing (and target the other bass later in the day),” Erik Thibodeaux, who has been his son’s boat captain in high school, said.
Bass fishing scholarship
Levi’s acquired skills in casting distance, knot tying and casting accuracy paid off in mid-October, 2021 at Decatur Lake in Alabama, where he topped the 80-angler field in the inaugural Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Combine. The Lafourche Bassmasters standout, a senior at Thibodeaux High School, also used the opportunity to sign a bass fishing scholarship with the Louisiana State University-Shreveport Pilots. Coaches from 20 championship-caliber colleges were on hand to recruit and sign the top prospects based on the skills competition, plus personal interviews to evaluate character, academic goals, etc.
Thibodeaux took the national recognition he earned in stride.
“It was pretty cool to go up there and get the trophy,” he said. “I was hoping I would win, but didn’t know how I’d stand up against everybody. It was definitely stout competition.”
He’s very good
The elder Thibodeaux said there’s another good reason Thibodeaux won the Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Combine, finished first in 2021 on the highly competitive Louisiana High School B.A.S.S. Nation East Trail, qualified for the state championship tournament his freshman through senior campaigns and, just recently, teamed with Chance Shelby of Watson and Live Oak High School to win a Bass Tactix TBF on Ross Barnett Reservoir in central Mississippi.
“Oh, he’s very good. He can stand up with just about any of us in any boat. He’s very intelligent, too, when it comes to changing baits and reading water,” the elder Thibodeaux said about his son.
The Thibodeauxs’ residence was damaged by Hurricane Ida when the Category 4 storm made landfall last summer in lower Lafourche Parish.
One of his role models, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Tyler Rivet of Raceland, who lives five minutes from the Thibodeaux home had his home destroyed by Ida as well. Hank Cherry of Lincolnton, North Carolina, a two-time Bassmaster Classic winner and another role model for Thibodeaux, and other Elites sped to the region with supplies and elbow grease to help Rivet and others across Lafourche Parish.
He eased back into bass tournament fishing in time for a highly rewarding fall 2021. In addition to the win on Ross Barnett, where Levi Thibodeaux and Shelby won the Bass Tactix TBF on a rainy day Dec. 11 with 17 pounds and boasted the biggest bass in the 60-boat field, the future Pilot and Caleb Cortez also won the JaBoomasters Classic.
Off to a fast start
Thibodeaux served three years as president of the Lafourche Bassmaster and is fishing his senior season with Andras. Fall 2021 was a time to remember as they surged to 14th Sept. 11 at Toledo Bend, followed up with a fifth place finish Oct. 2 at the Red River and another fifth Oct. 30 out of Doiron’s Landing in Stephensville.
“We’ve got the ball rolling pretty good but we’ve got to keep it up,” Thibodeaux said, looking ahead to LHSBN tournaments Feb. 5 at Toledo Bend, Feb. 19 at Stephensville and March 5 at Toledo Bend. And he’s looking forward to the LHSBN State Championship, his final appearance, April 30-May at the Ouachita River out of Forsythe Park. He’ll also fish two tournaments with Shelby at the Harris Chain in Florida. Shelby, also an accomplished high school bass angler, was profiled in the December issue of the Louisiana Sportsman.
Thibodeaux’s late winter through early summer schedule is full with bass tournaments every weekend, including a Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation Spring Qualifier as a Co-Angler on the Red River on Feb. 27 after a stint as Co-Angler in a Major League Fishing Toyota Series stop Feb. 12 at Lake Sam Rayburn in Texas.
Previously, Thibodeaux fished his freshman, sophomore and junior years with Holden Delatte. They cruised to the highly competitive LHSBN East Trail title for 2021. He tipped his fishing cap to his former partner, who wants to concentrate on a career in welding, and said, “He (Delatte) was a great partner.”
He has beaucoup bass fishing highlights to be thankful for, but the most important?
“I guess spending time with dad and friends,” he said. “There’s nothing like it.”
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