The LBAA has strong connections to Louisiana. The group held its 2019 Classic on Caddo Lake near Shreveport and will open its 2020 Pro Gator Boats LBAA tour March 27-28 on the Cane River in Natchitoches out of the Washington Street Boat Launch. Because of the tournament locations and the number of good fisherwomen in the Bayou State, Louisiana is well represented. “We try and have our tournaments where most of the anglers that support us are from, and our two biggest pockets of regular participation are Louisiana and Texas,” says Cheryl Bowden, one of the top competitors and co-director of the tour. “We want to compete at a high level and help the areas that we fish, not just catch fish and go home.”
Bowden said the two biggest draws for LBAA are the love of fishing and the love of competition. Nobody expects to get rich fishing the tour, but they hope to make some money, promote the sport and combine that love of fishing and competition, all while looking for ways to give back. At a recent event, they raised awareness and a large sum of money for a local food bank. Two Louisiana women who fish the tour and are looking forward to this year are Noella McLaurin of Vivian and Debbie Oswalt of Sibley. McLaurin didn’t start fishing until she was 29, when she fell in love with fishing thanks to an H&H spinner and a relative’s pond, where she caught lots of 3- and 4-pound bass and was hooked.
She just completed her rookie year as a boater and finished fourth overall on the circuit. “I love fishing, and I love the competition,” she said. “There are a lot of ladies out here who can catch fish. What I tell them is not to be apprehensive, but come with your strengths. Fish the way that you know how, then, be willing to learn. You can talk to and watch the other ladies, and they will teach you. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn.” McLaurin is looking forward to the challenge of the Cane River tournament to start 2020. “I’m a soft-plastics girl, and my favorite is the Big Bite Bait stick worm in green pumpkin with gold fleck,” she said. “I fish it everywhere. I enjoy Brush Hogs, stickbaits, buzzbaits and fishing shaky head worms on the points and drops. I think those will work when we hit the Cane River.”
Oswalt got into fishing when she moved to Lake Bistineau; she spent hours on the bank learning how to fish a spinning reel, finally getting rid of her Zebco 33 that she later said, “felt like it weighed 50 pounds” compared to today’s top-line bass gear. “My two favorite ways to fish are to fish shallow and slow,” Oswalt said. “Flipping shallow in grass, weeds or whatever structure there is with a junebug Baby Brush Hog is my go-to bait. My other is a KVD Bayou Bengal crankbait — in LSU colors, of course.”
Oswalt dips her soft-plastic baits in a garlic-flavored dip-dye and said slowing down your presentation is one way to catch more big bass. As for other ladies giving it a shot on the pro trail, her advice is simple. “Just go for it,” she said. “It’s the best thing I have done. I have met lifetime friends. I have learned many lessons from every lady I have fished with, and every one of the ladies care for each other and will help you out. Fish what is comfortable to you, and don’t try to copy anyone if you don’t feel comfortable. Finally, try new things while practice fishing but on tournament day, just relax and fish the best you can with what you know.” One of LBAA’s biggest goals for 2020 is getting more participation from ladies who want to fish. The tour promotes new members by offering co-angler status to every fisherwoman who doesn’t have to have a boat and time to do the scouting and pre-fishing.
Co-anglers also give the tour a boost in integrity because anglers self-marshal each other. Pairings are done by random drawing. “That’s important to us,” Bowden said. “One other thing we are doing to increase participation is offering anglers a chance to start federation tournaments. Our first federation was started this year for Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi anglers, in addition to the regular tour.” Fishing on the Cane River in March has all the lady anglers excited, she said.
“It’s a 33-mile long oxbow, and almost all of it looks like it should produce fish,” Bowden said. “We will have anglers targeting the shallower water on the north end for spawning fish, the banks and cuts along the main river and the little pockets, brush tops, and cane all along the south end of the lake. There are no contour lines on GPS for this body of water, so I think it will come down to who spends the time to find one area of the lake, learn it well and find the spawning fish the best.”
Bodwen expects several of her favorite lures will work on the Cane River. She likes crawfish colors for the Cane to see what’s working best. From what she’s seen of the river, she thinks black/blue soft plastics will also work. ? For more information on the LBBA, you can check out their Facebook page or their website, https://www.ladybassanglers.com.