STEPHENSVILLE — Fred King talked to dozens of bass fishermen the morning of Jan. 16 and told them each one of them, “Don’t be that guy!”
That was his message before daylight that Saturday of the Fishers of Men National Tournament Trail’s South Louisiana opener on the Atchafalaya Basin side of Doiron’s Landing in Stephensville. King pointed out there were 50 guys (or gals) who caught tagged bass worth $1,000 or more last year but missed cashing in because they weren’t registered in the BassCashBash on the Louisiana Delta, bodies of water across South Louisiana including the Atchafalaya Basin.
King, an accomplished bass tournament angler from LaPlace, said 58 of 201 bass he tagged and released (one was for a Phoenix bass boat) in Louisiana Delta waters last year before the event were caught but only eight of those bass anglers cashed in in 2020.
“Don’t be that guy,” he said repeatedly as he handed out brochures and registered some of the bass anglers at a table set up inside the remodeled convenience store at Doiron’s Landing.
BassCashBash is the freshwater fishing version of the Coastal Conservation Association’s S.T.A.R. contest from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The BassCashBash sites are in Louisiana, Texas and Alabama.
King, who works in operations at an oil refinery near his home and also owns Delta Lures LLC, an artificial lure company, fished the Fishers of Men opener with an outdoors writer, then swung into his role as BassCashBash tournament director for the Louisiana Delta. Before Fishers of Men competitors released their bass at the boat landing behind the convenience store after being weighed, he asked each bass angler to donate the live bass to be tagged.
The 49-year-old entrepreneur, who is in his second year as tournament director, stored bass in the huge livewells of his 22-foot Sterling competition bass boat powered by a 300-horsepower Mercury Pro XS and released 38 in the Spillway’s Shell Field and Little Bayou Sorrel. Later that afternoon, he released bass on the north side of Bayside Marine on the north end of Lake Verret near Pierre Part and six days ago released tagged bass at Henderson Lake.
King plans to release tagged bass Monday in Lake Fausse Pointe.
“This year, so far, I’ve done 150,” he said this past week.
He said he releases tagged bass in waters that are fished frequently and doesn’t “try to hide them.”
BassCashBash founder P.D. Vinson of Leesville said the event was designed to be a laid-back, inexpensive format that allows eligible anglers a chance to win cash and prizes each time they go out on the water, if they are registered.
“I felt it was a fun way for bass fishermen who every time they go fishing they have a chance to win money,” Vinson said.
Coronavirus pandemic restrictions helped rather than hampered the BassCashBash in 2020.
“There are no weigh-ins, no gatherings, Vinson said, noting more people than ever went fishing.
Vinson, who also works at an oil refinery, reported BassCashBash paid out more than $200,000 for tagged bass and awarded one Phoenix bass boat rig in 2020. Over the last two years, two Ram 1500 crew cab pickup trucks (one at Toledo Bend and one at Lake Guntersville) and a Phoenix bass boat have been awarded, according to Vinson.
Sitewide last year across the three states, more than 400 anglers caught tagged fish but missed out because they weren’t registered, he said. Also, three boat tags and one pickup truck tag went unpaid due to ineligible bass anglers in 2020.
King got word early last year that bass anglers were hopeful he’d take the lead and expand the BassCashBash started by Vinson in 2015 at Toledo Bend. That inaugural season was a big hit, which prompted Vinson to add Lake Sam Rayburn in 2016. Lake Fork and Lake Guntersville followed the next year. Lake Eufala, Caddo Lake and the Louisiana Delta were added for 2020.
King, who jumped at the chance to run the Louisiana Delta site, said, “My biggest thing is it seemed like another cool idea to go out fishing, another opportunity to go out and win some money — you, your wife or your kids. Everybody’s on the same playing field. You can fish from a boat or the bank. Everybody has an opportunity to win, everybody has the same chance.”
For Teche Area bassers, Henderson Lake and Lake Fausse Pointe were added this year to the Louisiana Delta’s eligible waters to go along with the Atchafalaya Basin. The majority of tagged bass in the Spillway this year are east of the Atchafalaya River.
Other eligible waters in the Louisiana Delta are Lake Des Allemands, Lake Salvador, Lake Cataouatche, Lake Verret, Lafitte, Maurepas, Bayou Black, Bayou Bienvenue, Chef/Rigolets, Lake Maurepas and Delacroix.
The Louisiana Delta season to cash in on tagged bass are from Feb. 1 to May 31. That time frame falls squarely in the heart of the spawn in this region and beaucoup bass anglers will be on the water.
To win money with a tagged bass, first and foremost you must be registered. Then clip off the tag and bring it to any of the BassCashBash registration stations in the Louisiana Delta.
Louisiana Delta registration stations in this site are Country Station and Tackle, Broussard; Doiron’s Landing, Stephensville; Bob’s Bayou Black Marina, Gibson; Ivy’s Tackle Box, Morgan City; Bayside Tackle, Pierre Part; Ascension Living & Outdoors, Gonzales; Outdoor Express, Boutte; Marshland Sports, Ponchatoula; The Parish Marina, Chalmette; Chag’s Sporting Goods, Metairie; and Z’s Tackle, Lutcher.
There are two other BassCashBash seasons in Louisiana and two in Texas
The Lake Sam Rayburn BassCashBash dates are Jan. 1-April 30. Toledo Bend’s BassCashBash dates are March 1-July 4. Caddo Lake’s BassCashBash dates also are March-July 4. BassCashBash dates for Lake Fork are March 1-July 4.
Entry fee for a single BassCashBash site is $50 ($70 for the bonus plus T-shirt). Entry fee for all 2021 sites and bonus plus T-shirt is $100. Youth entry fees (16 and under) are $30 apiece for one site and $50 for all 2021 sites and the bonus plus a T-shirt.
The bonus entry is worth an extra $500, which means the tagged bass nets the lucky bass angler $1,500.
For more information go to www.BashCashBash.com or call King at (504) 559-1689. And “Don’t be that guy!”