With a resume like his, LSU’s Alex Blanchard of Belle Rose had no reason to panic while fishing the first Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation College tournament of 2023-24.
Blanchard was on the water in October in his first collegiate tournament in his first year at LSU teaming with senior Richard “Alex” Hebert of Pierre Part. The LSU Fishing Team duo was on its “home” lake, so to speak, against 31 other teams out of Doiron’s Landing, Stephensville. It was a tough morning for Alex and Alex, as the LSU Fishing Team labels the team. Nevertheless, Blanchard, fishing out of his 19-foot Skeeter in Lake Verret, remained confident in the first spot.
“Practice was really tough,” Blanchard said. “I talked Alex into staying in the area that I knew had the right-sized fish. We didn’t catch our first keeper until about 11:30. That was a 4 ½-pounder. I caught three fish in 15 minutes. We fished 45 minutes more around the location, then moved to another location and caught two there. At 1:30, we went back to the first location. He (Hebert) caught another one on literally the last cast.”
Their five-bass limit weighed 13.40 pounds and included the biggest bass of the day, a 4.43-pounder. Most of the bass bit on a Zoom plastic worm. Hebert’s 2-pounder on his final cast “definitely helped,” Blanchard said.
“Honestly, we didn’t think we’d win,” Hebert, 22, said. “We thought we’d be in the Top 10, for sure, or Top 5.”
They took the lead, then waited.
“We were hoping for the best after that,” Hebert said.
Blanchard, the son of Leroy and Danielle Blanchard, qualified to fish three national tournaments in high school competition. As a sophomore, he also led Assumption High School to a Louisiana High School B.A.S.S. Nation state title in May 2021 at Stephensville with the help of his four-year tournament partner, Noah Deshotel, and Blanchard’s father, their coach/captain.
He’s proud of their high school career.
“We were one of the most consistent teams that fished,” he said. ”Always in the Top 25.”
Blanchard registered to fish seven collegiate bass tournaments this year, starting last month at the Harris Chain of Lakes (MLF) in Florida. The Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation College Series tournament is on Bayou Black Lake near Hosston in February. After that it’s off to Georgia to fish Clarks Hill Reservoir and Tennessee’s Douglas Lake; Lake Guntersville; Lake Sam Rayburn and finally, the Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation College Series State Classic June 15-16 at Toledo Bend.
Hitting the books
Hebert, who is majoring in construction management, will graduate in May and said he plans to fish the in-state tournaments, for sure. He fished his freshmen year with Connor Turner, LSU Fishing Team’s president at the time who graduated after the season. He also fished the past two years with Cayden Reily, who transferred to SLU, where he is president of the fishing team.
How does Blanchard, a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering, keep up with class curriculum, studying, tests, etc.? LSU’s collegiate bass anglers rely on faculty advisors to align the days off campus, he said.
“It’s going to be tough working around school, but I’ll get it done,” he said. “We try to finish all the work, like exams, before. We try to take them before we leave rather than wait until we return.”
The 18-year-old bass angler has been working since graduating from Assumption High as a drafter for Piping Analysis Inc. in Baton Rouge. He plans to fish collegiately each of his five years of eligibility. After graduating he plans to work full-time before trying MLF or B.A.S.S.
“Yeah,” he said. ”As I grew up I wanted to fish professionally. As I look at it now, it doesn’t make sense. I’m going to work a couple years first.”
His high school bass fishing success whetted his appetite for more. Peyton Matherne, LSU Fishing Team president, paved the way for a smooth entry onto the fishing team, Blanchard said.
If Blanchard wants to catch bass in February, he’ll go to Lake Verret, where big bass move up around trees and locations.
“At that time, look for more size than numbers. You’ve got to really look around for them. You’ve got to be patient,” he said, noting he relies on plastic worms, bladed jigs, spinnerbaits and crankbaits.