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2012 was the first year that I fished CCA Louisiana’s Statewide Tournament and Anglers Rodeo, a saltwater tournament that boasts over 10,000 participants and sponsor prizes totaling more than $500,000.   Each year the tournament begins on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and last until Labor Day – over 100 days of competition!

Four years ago CCA Louisiana decided to add kayak divisions to the tournament and required the participants to target speckled trout, one of Louisiana’s prized game fish.  The organization divided coastal Louisiana into four sections, each representing a division.

I decided early on to fish the Southwest division, a division that is heavily influenced by freshwater runoff from a few rivers.  The mixing of salt and freshwater is determined by water levels of the rivers that empty into coastal bays within the division.  Higher river levels lower the salinity in the bays and cause the speckled trout to relocate further offshore, which was the case most of the tournament.

A few weeks into the tourney I found myself at the top of the leaderboard with a trout just over three pounds, a nice fish for the table but definitely not a tournament winning fish.  My next weighed fish was also caught on topwater and bumped my first place fish; it weighed in at 3.97lbs.


I went through a period where the trout I caught were all in the 20-22” range, I just couldn’t catch anything larger. At this point I decided to change my game plan up a bit.

Early on I threw what most trout anglers looking for trophy fish throw, topwater plugs.  I caught a lot of aggressive fish while fishing topwaters including a 40 3/4″ redfish!

I had a friend send me some Big Hammer Swimbaits, a lure that I used back in the late 90’s to target saltwater bass in the Pacific Ocean.  A few days later I received a bunch of oversized, soft bodied swimbaits with the same awesome tail action that I remembered them having.  I pre-rigged a few on Rockport Rattler jigs and headed off to the water.  I experienced what we all hear when people talk about fishing with oversized lures, just a few bites.  I threw these swimbaits for a few hours before I caught my largest fish of the tournament, a speckled trout weighing 4.72lbs.

I held the top three spots on the southwest leaderboard up until the last week of the tournament and finished in first and second place.  I won a kayak for first place and also received two really nice plaques for placing first and second.  This tournament really worked my nerves, kept me fishing hard, and challenged me to try different presentations; I had a blast!