MYETTE POINT — One down, two to go in the Suits’ brothers bid to rewrite Wednesday Night Hawg Fights Bass Tournament Series history even more in 2020.
Ben Suit, the older brother, and Zach Suit, the only two-time defending Angler(s) of the Year winners in the long history of Hawg Fights in the Teche Area, won their second straight WN Hawg Fights BTS tournament Wednesday night with another dominating outing in the Atchafalaya Basin out of Myette Point Boat Landing. The New Iberians won the previous Hawg Fights contest there on July 8.
The Suits are gunning for their third straight AOY title, unprecedented in the annals of evening bass tournaments in and around the Atchafalaya Basin. Until Wednesday, the ninth tournament of the regular season, the only team standing in their way of a three-peat was that of father-and-son Don Shoopman and Jacob Shoopman, both of New Iberia.
Ben and Zach went into the ninth of 11 regular-season tournaments trailing the Shoopmans by one point, 213-212. After putting a three-bass limit weighing a whopping 9.99 pounds for $473 on Wednesday after weigh-in time of 8:40 p.m., the Suits regained first place and own a nine-point lead over the father-and-son team, 817-808.
The Shoopmans, who won the AOY title in 2015, kept the race close with a clutch second-place finish by bringing in a limit weighing 8.72 pounds worth $284.
“It’s awesome what they’re doing,” Jacob Shoopman said about the team of hard-fishing Suit brothers. “When it’s on the line like that they deserve it. We’re both going at it so hard. Whoever wins it is going to deserve it.”
Teche Area bass anglers Brad Romero and Luke Bulliard finished third with three bass that tipped the scale at 8.19 pounds to win $189.
“It feels good to be back (in first place) but it doesn’t mean much because we’ve still got two tournaments left. (Nine points) not a lot at all. That’s one tournament. We’re basically still tied,” Zach said. “You know our strategy. If you go out and beat the Shoopmans, you’re going to win as far as the end of the year.”
Ben, 29-year-old multiple line rep for Erik Guillory State Farm Insurance in Broussard, said, “I imagine it’s going to go down to the last tournament and my guess is it’ll be winner take all because the darned Shoopmans won’t give us a break.”
He agreed with his brother’s assessment of the nine-point lead.
“At this point, it’s not enough to make a big enough difference to make a difference. I understand what he’s saying,” Ben said.
The Suits’ big bag of bass, anchored by the biggest bass of the day, a 3.66-pounder worth $105, plus five crucial points, wowed the small crowd at the weigh-in. Twenty-one boats fished the evening tournament that began at 5:30 p.m.
The weight kind of surprised them, too.
“Honestly, I was just hoping to catch three fish. Once it went down, I thought we had more than last tournament (8.96 pounds). I thought we had 9 ½. I didn’t think we had 10 pounds,” Ben said.
Zach, 25, a senior at UL-Lafayette who works part-time as a sales associate at Academy Sports + Outdoors in Lafayette, said, “We were a little surprised with the weight we had. Once we caught them, we knew we were in pretty good shape.”
Both anglers confirmed they fished a different area of the nation’s last great overflow swamp than they did win they won two weeks earlier. They had a game plan going in but had to change their strategy right away and get away from flippin’ soft plastics and fishing plastic worms.
That change was the key.
“We made a pass down a little stretch and he (Zach) decided to throw a buzz bait. He caught that biggest bass. The way it ate it, as aggressive as it was, that was the way to go. We just ripped a page out of the Shoopmans’ playbook,” Ben said.
However, when the buzz bait bite tapered off, Ben made a switch of his own to a Whopper Plopper.
“He said, ‘I’m going to throw this. It’s kind of the same thing.’ And it worked,” Zach said.
“I caught three or four fish that were between 2 ½, 2 ¾, on that Whopper Plopper but at that point it didn’t make any difference,” Ben said.
“We probably caught eight or nine keepers but they were all good fish, all but one was 2 ½ or bigger,” his brother said, noting they had their limit before 6 p.m.
“By 6:15, we had 9 pounds,” he said.
Winning back-to-back Hawg Fights was special, Zach said.
“I mean, it’s always a fun time to go out and compete, especially against my dad (Kevin Suit of New Iberia, who fishes with Bucky Crowson of Lafayette, formerly of New Iberia),” Zach said.
Ben said, “Winning at any time is special. It’s pretty special because of the guys we’re fishing against and the amount of time they’re putting in to win these tournaments.”
Their eyes are focused on the overall prize, AOY.
“I think if we do our part, go catch three fish our next two tournaments, I think we can do it. If I didn’t think we could do it, I don’t know why we’d be fishing,” Ben said.
“We need to keep it close to have fun. Between us (Suits and Shoopmans), we’ve won five tournaments, more than half of them. We’ll go out and try to catch our three fish both times. Whatever happens, happens,” Zach said.
Ben congratulated Zach, who married Melinda Green on Friday night at a church in Lafayette, where one of the groomsmen was his and the family’s friend, Jacob Shoopman.
The next WN Hawg fights BTS tournament is scheduled to be held Aug. 5 out of Bayou Benoit Boat Landing in the Atchafalaya Basin. Entry fee is $60 per boat and must be paid at Cajun Guns & Tackle before 1 p.m. the day of the tournament.