College connections and more notes

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James Overstreet

MORGAN CITY, La. — Tyler Rivet is like many anglers fishing the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens. That means when not competing in the tournaments he holds down a full-time job, although it’s different than his peers.

Rivet, 22, is a junior majoring in petroleum engineering technology at Nichols State University in Houma, La. That is a serious major requiring countless hours of study, class, labs and time eating into his angling time.

Sound familiar? It should. Striking the balance between fishing and sustaining work obligations is what anglers at this level do. Rivet already has a head start on how to find a way to keep both interests afloat. In fact, he’s doing well in both.

Rivet fishes on the bass fishing team for Nichols State. In 2015 he finished third place at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship. In the B.A.S.S. series the anglers fish as a team, and Rivet shared the boat with Allyson Marcel.

This year, Rivet returned to the championship and finished 8th-place with another partner.

Now Rivet and Marcel are back together as a team with a mutual goal in mind.

“We want to qualify again for the championship,” said Marcel.

Should they do that it will be the third consecutive championship qualification for Rivet and Nichols State’s bass fishing team.

“I want to get the degree as a back-up but do want to pursue the sport full time,” said Rivet. “I’ll see how it goes but we fish really well together and coming back would bring me a lot of confidence.”

The B.A.S.S. high school and college programs are experiencing unprecedented success and growth, as young anglers like Rivet and Marcel set their goals on the Opens as a means of testing the water.

Rivet caught 11 pounds, 8 ounces on Day 1 of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open underway on the Atchafalaya Basin. Fishing close to home, the catch buoyed his confidence with a Top 12 in reach tomorrow.

Dangerous game

This story could have a much worse ending. Texan Brent Homan, fishing this week as a boater, experienced a scary moment during practice while fishing with Mike Scalise, a co-angler from Louisiana.

Using a punch rig in shallow water Homan set the hook on a bass, only to have the lure come loose. When it did the 1 1/2-ounce Strike King Tour Grade Tungsten Weight took off like a bullet, zipping through the air, across the boat and striking Scalise in the face.

The weight hit the left corner of Scalise’s sunglass lens, shielding his eye from serious injury.

“That shows why eye protection is so important,” said Homan, claiming the obvious benefit of wearing sunglasses beyond sun protection.

Scalise suffered only a minor contusion to the cheek caused by shattered glass from his shades. The anglers continued practicing, grateful the sunglasses prevented a worse case scenario.

Crawford is back

Gerald Crawford, the original photographer for B.A.S.S., made an appearance at the Day 1 weigh-in. Wearing his customary uniform of B.A.S.S. hat, logo shirt and cradling his trusty Nikon, Crawford renewed longtime acquaintances while taking lots of photos.

“I love it all and mostly the people,” he said. “It’s just in me and has been for a long time.”

From 1980 through 2008 Crawford attended most tournaments as a freelancer or full-time employee of B.A.S.S.
Now retired, Crawford worked the trip into a vacation itinerary that he is enjoying with wife, Faye. A lengthy feature and photo gallery documenting Crawford’s many milestones witnessed over the years will soon appear on Bassmaster.com.

Salty treats

The Atchafalaya Basin spills into the Gulf of Mexico, where a bountiful array and harvest of saltwater game fish inhabit the coastal waters. That makes catching saltwater game common in the estuaries shared by largemouth bass.

Dewayne French, a boater from Arkansas, proved the point. During practice he boated species including doormat sized flounder and trophy red drum from the marsh.

His weren’t the only salty catches of the week. Other anglers reported catching red drum, also known as redfish, flounder, spotted seatrout and many other species, including an alligator.

Basin bonus

The Central Open anglers enjoyed a unique angling experience with the bonus of catching saltwater species and more.

The vast confluence of the Atchafalaya River and the Gulf of Mexico create the perfect mix for a combination of wetlands and river delta like none other.

Sprawling over one million acres across south Louisiana, the basin is the largest swamp in the United States and one of the most ecologically varied regions. The wetlands, bayous and marshes are home to 300 species of birds, 90 species of fish and shellfish and 54 species of reptiles and amphibians, including the great American alligator.

“There is no place we go where we go that you can run 150 miles either way and catch fish like you can here,” noted Greg Hackney, Bassmaster Elite Series pro from nearby Gonzales.

Hackney, a front-runner to win, currently has 17-6 for second place, behind leader Fred Roumbanis.

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