PINELAND, Texas — Talk about going full circle.
Braxton Resweber of St. Martinville returned to the big lake where his bass tournament season started unluckily early in the year and emerged with a first-place finish last weekend in the Louisiana Bass Cats’ last tournament of 2019. Resweber and Ry Savoy of Loreauville, formerly of Coteau Holmes, tied on the right bait in the right place to win the two-day tournament with of 29 pounds, 14 ounces, on Lake Sam Rayburn.
They had 13 pounds the first day, missing three quality fish, and came back with a vengeance on Sunday with 16 pounds, 14 ounces, a limit anchored by a 4 ½-pounder that narrowly missed being big bass of Day 2. Catching keepers was no problem Saturday when they boat 30, then they had fewer bites but more quality to put approximately 15 keepers in the boat Sunday.
“We had a blast,” Resweber said Wednesday night.
“I was pretty blessed this year. I blew the (boat’s) motor, actually blew it on Rayburn in February,” he said, then had a string of successful tournament outings throughout the year.
Resweber and Savoy’s rally on the second day unseated first-day tournament leaders Jacob Shoopman and Zach Suit, both of New Iberia, whose two-day total was 10 bass for 28 pounds. Shoopman and Suit finished second and won $132, plus $110 for big bass on Day 1, one that weighed nearly 7 pounds.
Third-place was nailed down by Junius “Nonky” Dore and Max Stevens, who had a two-day total of 23 pounds, 3 ounces, for $88, and also came in with the Day 2 big bass of 4 pounds, 13 ounces, worth $110.
Resweber’s win nearly catapulted him to the 2019 Angler of the Year title in the Louisiana Bass Cats. Going into the eighth and last tournament of the year, he was in second place in the overall standings right behind New Iberian Ben Suit, Zach Suit’s older brother who fished the regular-season finale here with their father, Kevin Suit of New Iberia.
The elder Suits had a “small” limit both days, 8 pounds, 15 ounces, on Saturday and 7 pounds, 8 ounces, on Sunday. Ben Suit hung onto his lead and won his second straight AOY.
“I guess it was meant to be. I’m happy for him,” Resweber said, sincerely.
Resweber finished second in the AOY race and was followed by Savoy, who was third in 2019.
The tournament winners were proud of their last two days on the water in eastern Texas.
Savoy said a few days later, “Oh, it was a good little time. We caught a lot of fish.”
“It feels pretty good. I didn’t go out there thinking I was going to win. I just went out there hoping to catch fish, to be honest,” Resweber said. “Going there, I didn’t know what to fish.”
Resweber, 22, a senior at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who also works part-time at Cabinets Unlimited, and Savoy, 25, a ULL grad who works at Gulf Coast Woodworks, left the Teche Area in the predawn darkness Friday and arrived in plenty of time to start fishing Lake Sam Rayburn. They found out where and what to fish later than sooner.
“We fished the first half of the day before we found a pattern in an area. After that, we went from cove to cove marking spots that looked the same. It had to be a cove with grass in the middle and it had to be in 4 foot,” he said.
Their hotspot for the two-day tournament was in Buck Creek, he said. They located the sweet spot Saturday, a grassy area loaded with large gizzard shad 10 yards away from a creek channel.
“We found that spot about noon. We knew it had potential. We stuck it out there,” he said, noting before they moved onto the spot they already had their five-fish limit, so commenced culling all five of those bass.
They never left the spot the next day and it cemented their comeback.
“Sunday we fished the 50-yard stretch up and down, made circles. We had all our weight there,” he said.The main meal ticket was a green pumpkin Chatterbait.
“That was the key. It imitated the gizzard shad. Every one of them had it in their throw, had it way down. That’s how you know you had the right bait,” Resweber said.
The biggest bass Saturday was by far the biggest bass of the two-day tournament among the Louisiana Bass Cats.
Zach Suit boated the 6-pound, 13-ounce “hawg” while fishing with Jacob Shoopman.
It was his biggest bass ever in a tournament, Suit said, noting his hands shook as he extracted hooks from the fish.
“I think it was so exciting because it came right in the last minute. It was great. That’s the one we needed. We put it in there and culled out a smaller fish, probably a 4-pound upgrade,” he said.
The big bass smashed the bone-colored Zara Spook, a saltwater model, offered by Suit in a depth of less than 3 ½ feet around a grassy patch 30 minutes before the weigh-in at San Augustine Park. He cast the topwater far back in the back of the cove near the boat ramp, a spot Shoopman caught a 5-pound class bass Monday on a “You Know It”-colored Rover 98.
“We had just stopped. That was my first cast,” Suit said.
Suit, 24, a senior at ULL who works part-time as a sales associate at Academy Sports + Outdoors in Lafayette, sank both treble hooks into the fish’s mouth on the hookset. Suit took his tournament partner’s advice and steered it toward the driver’s side of the boat, away from a pile of fishing rods leaning over the boat.
Shoopman, 31-year-old merchandiser for Coca-Cola United Bottling Co., made his way to the back deck and slipped the net under it at exactly 4:29 p.m. after a fight of about 45 seconds. He said it seemed like an eternity.
“It felt like it. It felt like a long time but I know it wasn’t that long,” Suit said in agreement.
That lunker bass anchored their five-fish stringer that weighed 17 pounds, 8 ounces, good enough for the halfway lead.
The leaders couldn’t get the big bites Sunday but culled to a five-fish limit weighing 10 pounds, 12 ounces.
The Louisiana Bass Cats Classic, pitting the Top 15 in the AOY standings, will be held Nov. 11 at a site to be determined with a drawing Nov. 10.