Did you ever watch someone blow up a balloon full of air, then they let go and it flies around all over the place until it runs out of air and crashes to the ground? That’s always funny to watch.
That’s kind of the way organized fishing has been the past two months because of the Covid-19 pandemic. But it hasn’t been the least bit fun to watch.
While individuals have been able to “socially distance” to fish, big professional events like bass and crappie tour events and sportsman’s shows and seminars have crashed to the ground. They’ve been postponed or cancelled right in the middle of their busiest part of the season. It’s estimated that more than 100 major fishing events that affect Louisiana anglers alone have been affected.
“It has just been crazy” says Louisiana pro bass angler Cliff Crochet. “On a professional level, man, it’s just been so disappointing and frustrating for us. Not to be able to follow the schedule we’ve been planning for months and to not be able to hook up and go to work, it’s just something I would have never dreamed. It’s just shut down our fishing tours and our whole country.
In Louisiana, the largest number of anglers affected have been anglers who participate on the BASS, FLW and Major League Fishing circuits. There are also hundreds of anglers that follow the Crappie Masters and American Crappie Trail events that have had to stay home and wait. Some tournaments are being rescheduled and it’s a moving target still. For the latest information on each circuit, the best way to keep up is to follow their websites and Facebook pages.
Major League Fishing has announced that after a two and a half month pause, they will be back in action in early June with a return to Florida’s Kissimmee Chain. The BASS tour also plans to resume in June at Lake Eufaula in Alabama. The two crappie circuits are hoping to resume as soon as possible and reschedule as many events as possible.
“Everything just got the brakes pumped on it without warning,” said Matt Morgan, Tournament Director of the American Crappie Trail, which hosts several events in Louisiana each year. “I think our upcoming championship is still pretty much a go, but frankly we don’t know for sure. Look, there’s no need to beat your head against the wall or jump out of a moving truck. We just don’t know and it’s something that couldn’t be helped. It’s unprecedented. The effect on people’s health the economic consequences, there’s nothing we can do but hope things come back quickly. I feel guilty for the fishermen, too. I would venture to say that half of them may have been laid off from work and even when we come back, there is only so much disposable income that they can devote to tournament fishing and the expenses around it. That’s big.”
Crochet agreed that it will be different for some. While the major bass tours have a large group of sponsored fishermen, there are also many others that will face a tough time getting going again. For him, though, at least there was one bright spot during the shutdown.
Crochet’s and his wife Sara had twin boys on Feb. 27 and they remained in the hospital for several weeks. It’s allowed him a lot of family time as well as increased chances to fish with his other two sons.
“I’m fishing as much as I can around home,” he said. “It’s a blessing to be two miles from the boat ramp for me, he said. Cliff lives right down the road from Lakeside Tackle on the north end of Lake Verret. He also said that is what most of the other anglers he knows are doing as well, fishing every chance they get, honing their skills, trying new lures and presentations and staying ready for the chance to get out and go to work on the lake.