Wait a minute, the Classic is coming here?

The Atchafalaya Basin doesn’t fit the stereotype for ideal turkey grounds, but the birds that flourish there haven’t seemed to notice.

The Bass Anglers Sportsman Society is either much, much smarter than me, or a whole lot stupider. My critics, along with my wife, would say the latter is entirely impossible, so I guess we’ll have to give the organization the benefit of the doubt, and go with the former.

But simple-minded me is having a hard time figuring out how the world’s premier tournament-fishing organization selected the sites for two of the next three Bassmaster Classics.

In case you haven’t heard, BASS announced at last month’s Classic in South Carolina that next year’s event will be hosted in Shreveport, with the fishing taking place on the Red River.

That Classic will be followed the next year by an event in Birmingham, Ala., and then the Classic will return to Louisiana in 2011, with fishing taking place out of Bayou Segnette, site of three previous Classics.

The 2009 event will be the Classic’s first return to Louisiana since 2003. During that year’s event, eventually won by New Jersey’s Mike Iaconelli, both Gary Klein and Harold Allen were in contention for the crown, but Klein was shot at, and Allen was run out of his prime hole by an angry air-boater who said Allen was fishing his private water.

Hey, welcome to Louisiana.

Believe me, I’m elated that the world’s best bass anglers will test their mettle — with all of us watching — on waters that many of us fish every week. The Classics will pump millions of dollars into our state’s economy, and after the way Mother Nature treated us in 2005, we certainly could use a few extra bucks.

But it appears the good folks at BASS don’t read the papers.

At the end of last year, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that anglers in Louisiana have no rights to fish anywhere on riverine systems except between the low-water marks.

Unless the ruling is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Classic anglers will be legally allowed to fish the main section of the Red River, but none of its backwaters. To make matters worse, the event will be held in February, when the Red is historically high.

Ever try catching a bass in the middle of a river in February? Me, neither. Nor would I want to.

Anglers won’t be presented with a much better situation two years later when the event is held on the Louisiana Delta. As Louisiana Sportsman has covered extensively, much of South Louisiana’s marsh is off-limits to anglers and boaters, as demonstrated by maps released last year by the State Land Office.

Is BASS going to provide its tournament anglers with copies of these maps? If not, is the organization going to claim ignorance, and allow its anglers to traverse and fish private waters?

As I’ve reported in this space in the February issue and on several prior occasions, it’s not required of Louisiana landowners that they post private property, so it’s literally conceivable, perhaps even likely, that a landowner may lie in wait with a local deputy to cite every Classic angler who motors through “his” canal or attempts to fish “his” water.

Is BASS going to disqualify these anglers? What about the ones who motor over private water (every single one will), and don’t get cited?

I have a feeling BASS may change its mind, and pull these events from Louisiana, but I sincerely hope they don’t.

It would be great to get some national exposure on this ridiculous and frustrating issue.

About Todd Masson 672 Articles
Todd Masson has covered outdoors in Louisiana for a quarter century, and is host of the Marsh Man Masson channel on YouTube.

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