Wednesday Night Hawg Fights Bass Tournament Series officials probably saved themselves dozens of phone calls in a month or two when they met recently to establish rules and dates for 2020.
WN Hawg Fights BTS director Mike Sinitiere of New Iberia and his tournament committee got together Jan. 9 at Pelican’s on the Bayou in New Iberia. The rules and regulations, plus the schedule, were posted on the popular evening bass tournament’s Facebook page this past week by Chris Vedrines of New Iberia.
“I’m happy. I wanted to get it done early before the start of the fishing season and have enough time to make any changes if any arise,” Sinitiere said around midday Friday.
At the same time, he said, ‘I wanted to wait until after the holidays and after the hunting season.”
The foresight proved beneficial. A correction to the schedule was made within a few days of the meeting and all systems are go for the start of the circuit on March 18.
As a result, Sinitiere and tournament committee members may field half or less inquiries about the WN Hawg Fights BTS as they did in the weeks leading up to the opener in 2019. That wasn’t the case last year, when the rules and regulations and schedule were drawn up at a meeting at least a month later than the recent get-together and dozens of Teche Area bass anglers wondered about the details through February and early March.
Still, it was a successful season by anyone’s standards. Vedrines pointed out in the Facebook post on www.facebook.com/hawg/fights/ that a total of 279 boats fished the 11 regular-season tournaments and the series paid out $16,560, including a $4,520 purse for the 2019 WN Hawg Fights BTS Classic won by St. Martinville bass fishing veterans Carroll Delahoussaye and Danny Bulliard.
“I’m looking forward to this coming Hawg Fight season. I think it’ll be more successful than the other two because of the payout and I think it’s run very well with minimal issues. I hope this year goes as smoothly as the past. We encourage input from all participants,” Sinitiere said.
This area’s evening circuit dates back several decades and was first introduced by Clay Peltier of New Iberia, who at the time owned Clay’s Boats and Motors. There have been several directors since to oversee the mini bass tournaments held every other Wednesday in and around the Atchafalaya Basin.
Sinitiere’s tournament committee includes returning members Gregory Bourque of St. Martinville, Zach Suit and Jacob Shoopman, both of New Iberia, and Jean Trahan of Lafayette, who replaces Mike O’Brien of New Iberia. O’Brien will remain the circuit’s weighmaster, Sinitiere said.
Trahan was named to fill the spot because O’Brien and Sinitiere plan to team up in the series and officials wanted to avoid seating two tournament committee members from the same two-man team, Sinitiere said.
“We have great board members and we also have fishermen that are very cooperative. The success of the Hawg Fight series depends on the fishermen,” he said.
The officials changed or added a few rules and regulations.
The entry fee remains the same at $60 per boat and must be paid before 1 p.m. the day of the Hawg Fight at Cajun Guns & Tackle. Also, anglers must fish (or pay for) six of the 11 tournaments to qualify for the WN Hawg Fights BTS Classic scheduled to be held Aug. 23.
An amended rule will help prevent a repeat of 2019 when the Atchafalaya Basin was excluded from the list of Classic sites because no tournaments were held in the Spillway. As a result, the Classic was out of Fairax Foster Bailey Boat Landing in Franklin.
The amended rule reads: Location for the Classic will be chosen by one vote per team from landings fished during the current year or any board-approved additional location to be voted on.
“We don’t want the same thing to happen as last year when we didn’t fish the Basin. I hope that doesn’t happen again,” Sinitiere said.
The tournament committee also tweaked the payout for big bass of each tournament. In the past, $10 per boat went to the big bass pot. That has been cut in half to $5 with the other $5 going to first-, second- and third-place money.
“We just felt the big bass payout was more than third place so we just evened it out a little bit,” Sinitiere said.
Also, each boat will be issued a chip with the number of its takeoff before the tournament starts at 5:30 p.m. That chip must be placed in a designated landing net before the weigh-in time.
Previously, WN Hawg Fights BTS anglers had to be within sight of the boat launch before the weigh-in time. Sinitiere said that was difficult to manage.
The complete list of rules and regulations can be found on the Facebook page.
DON SHOOPMAN is outdoors editor of The Daily Iberian.