LOREAUVILLE — It was truly an “Oh my goodness!” kind of day April 17 for Austin Theriot and his girlfriend, Leryn Quintana.
Or, as Theriot said a few days later, “It was a helluva day!”
Theriot, of St. Martinville, and Quintana, of Catahoula, dominated a 39-boat field in the inaugural Jackie Savoy Memorial Big Bass Classic at Lake Fausse Pointe. The tournament’s new namesake must have been smiling down from the heavens.
That 39 boats fished was a tribute to the energy and dedication starting at the top with director Tee Roy Savoy of Coteau Holmes. The fundraising tournament that has been in Teche Area bass fishermen’s blood for at least three decades was renamed this year for his wife, the late Jackie Savoy, who after a brave five-year battle against cancer died Feb. 1.
Savoy guided the fundraiser while being at his wife’s side through those years and never lost sight of the event’s purpose to benefit nonprofits, particularly Lydia Cancer Association and, later, Acadiana Hope for A Cure.
The turnout was impressive because the area received heavy rainfall for three straight days leading up to the Jackie Savoy Memorial BBC. The lake rose quickly and flooded, a development that muddied most of the popular fishing areas.
And it dawned gray and soggy for the big day.
It’s no secret most of the action, if not all, was in Sandy Cove. That’s where the champions fished that Saturday.
Theriot and Quintana won $750 with their three first-place fish in the hourly big bass format and another $975 for first place in the new “stringer money” tournament within a tournament. The first five bass weighed by a team count for the “stringer” and theirs weighed 20.32 pounds.
The $1,725 haul was divided as it usually is among two-man teams, Theriot said. He didn’t keep it all or, even, most of the winnings.
“Ah, no. I split that with my girlfriend. She fished it. It was teamwork. It ain’t about money for me. To catch 20 pounds … Oh my goodness! Ah, she’s learning. She caught a bunch of fish with me Saturday, that’s for sure.”
The couple, who have been dating and fishing together five years, had a 4.46-pound winner the first hour, a 5.74-pound winner the fourth hour and a 4.74-pound winner the eighth and last hour at Marsh Field Boat Landing.
Quintana’s face more than likely was sore from all her big, broad smiles when each big bass was hoisted into the 20-foot long crawfish skiff made by Tee Roy Blanchard of Coteau Holmes.
“She was pumped. Whenever I’d pull a big one out of the water, you should see her eyes, her mouth open, like ‘Oh my goodness!’ ” Theriot said.
The hit parade on big bass and quality keeper bass eventually got to him emotionally, too. Five minutes before leaving Sandy Cove for the last time that day, the all-around outdoorsman tied into his third and final first-place bass, a 4.74-pounder that won the eighth hour.
They had boated a few more “heavy 2s” to go toward their “stringer money” limit — including a nice 2.56-pounder by Quintana — before that last big bite, he said. Unknown to them, one more catch was forthcoming and he doesn’t remember fighting it or lipping it after slamming the steel home.
Theriot said, “At 2:15, I flipped and caught the 4 ¾ and put it in the boat. I was shaking so much. I forgot how I put it in the boat, honestly. It was all of a sudden in my hands. I had to sit down and take a break. I was shaking. I said, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’ At 2:20, I said, ‘Let’s go. We’ve got a good bag.’ ”
They had the heaviest ‘bag’ of five bass for the day in the new format.
At their first stop of the day, a duck blind, they hooked and landed five bass while flippin’ soft plastics. The distaff half of the team kicked off the onslaught with a Strike King Rage Craw, Theriot said.
“I looked at my clock and it was 7 o’clock (official time for first cast). Everything changed when my girlfriend made her first cast and she caught a fish. I said, ‘It’s going to be a good day.’ We caught our first five (keepers),” he said.
Thirty minutes later, he socked their first big bass while fishing in his dad’s crawfish skiff.
“I was flippin’ the same thing as her. Whenever I set the hook, I felt the head shake left and right. I started saying ‘Big’un. Big’un. Big’un.’ I flipped it in. I didn’t bring a net,” he said.
That was around 7:30 a.m. Ten minutes later, they left to put their first winner (4.46) on the leaderboard.
They returned to Sandy Cove, where they mixed up offering soft plastics, spinnerbaits and swim baits, alternating between duck blinds and stands of tall grass.
“When I picked up the one almost 6, I was flippin’. I waited till the next hour to go weigh that one,” he said about the biggest bass of the event, the 5.74-pounder that topped the fourth hour.
Two other 5-pound class bass finished first in their respective hours.
Damein Clements’ 5.60-pounder won the fifth hour and was the biggest of several quality bass in his five-fish limit.
A 5.54-pounder brought in by Bradley Reiners won the sixth hour, the same time frame that a 5.04-pound bass was carried to the scale by Gregory Bourque.
Jackie Savoy Memorial BBC officials awarded the runner-up “stringer money” of $525 to St. Martin Parish bass anglers Gavin Savoy and his girlfriend, Christiana Saurez. Saurez’ 3.22-pounder won the second hour. Their limit weighed 15.50 pounds.
Third-place “stringer money” worth $390 went to Mike Louviere of Loreauville. He had 14.46 pounds.