Fly fishing rod

Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association keeps records for the best fish

The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association presented its 2021 Fish of the Year awards on a Zoom conference call because the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association’s annual conference was canceled. Two deserving anglers braved the elements and the fish and carved out a place for themselves in the state’s record books.

The top angler in the Rod & Reel division was Bradley Cole Thurman of Meadow Lakes, Texas, with a 106.20 pound black grouper caught at Port Fourchon. Its catch is a new state record.

In the fly fishing division, Jim E. Johnson of Lecompte received the award for his feat of landing a 1.64 pound chain pickerel caught in Cocodrie Lake at Forest Hill.

Buddy Hernandez's 16-year-old son Luke Hernandez and 9-year-old grandson Braden Hernandez had a great morning last weekend hunting on the homestead near Donaldsonville.

These two fish were caught several miles apart, and the two fishermen had very different battles at the end of their lines. But they had one thing in common; they took the time to meet all the requirements to register their fish in the state registry, maintained by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association.

Unfortunately, not all cases turn out this way. More often than we would like to see, people do not meet all of the requirements to certify the catch. Their fish would qualify more often than not, but because one or two steps are missed when the fisherman thought he had done all that was necessary. A great disappointment then ensued.

There have been a lot of changes in our fish registration process. Photo ID is now allowed for seats 2-10 with physical ID only required for re-entry in first place. All of this can be accomplished online, with the exception of the physical exam.

A quick trip to, then click on Awards & Records / Fish, and Hunting Records will bring you to the nominations page. Photos can be attached to the request, which is sent to a biologist in the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for identification. One stipulation is that if photo ID is not possible, physical ID is required.

OK, so here’s the Reader’s Digest version of how to do it. Applications can also be found on our website under the files tab at the top of the home page. They can be completed on paper and mailed to the address indicated. If a candidate has the option to scan and email, the request can be submitted to [email protected]

The name of the angler, the species of fish, the date of catch, and the weight, length and location of the fish are listed first. Then, if the fish was caught offshore, the name of the boat, the captain and the port where the boat landed is required. The type of rod, reel, test line and bait used completes this part.

The scale is as follows. This can be done anywhere there is a scale certified and inspected by the Louisiana State Department of Agriculture. A grocery store, a marina or even a seafood pier, or a tournament weigh-in location, location doesn’t matter as long as the scale is state certified. All you need is where you weigh it, name and model, numeric or standard as well as certification number and inspection date.

The applicant’s information comes next and then two witnesses also need to sign and provide their information. The bottom of the first page is reserved for the biologist’s documentation for a first-place fish. This part requires the most effort. Most large marinas have someone who knows who to call and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries can also be contacted.

If it is the weekend or after working hours, the socket will need to be refrigerated or frozen until a biologist can be reached. If you are in or near the Grand Isle area, the Marine Lab has several biologists and can be reached at 985 787-2163. Biologists are very accommodating because it is part of their job. It just takes a little effort.

The records are separated by fresh water and salt water as well as rod and reel and fly rod. There is even a pond section for a few species, although pond fish are not eligible for Fish of the Year as they are private waters.

Not all categories have 10 entries, so just catch one and enter the fish to qualify. Some are new categories and have very few entries, and none of the pond divisions are full.

Louisiana is the only state in the country to maintain “Top Ten” fish records. All other states only keep number 1. We also have the highest number of categories and species counted for the record books. New species are introduced in the registers at the request of our fishermen.

Our intention is to help anyone who catches a fish that would qualify for a record get through the process. The app is self-explanatory, but it’s my privilege to help anyone who has questions.

If you fish a lot, a visit to the website to familiarize yourself with the rules and check the records would be a great way to spend some time and find out what’s going on. You never know, you might just land a fish that would put you in the Top Ten.

Online payment can also be made. An application will need to be printed and completed by the applicant and witnesses and mailed when completed. Any inquiries can be submitted if a question needs to be asked and the Fish Records Committee will always be available to assist in any way.

The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association is a non-profit organization made up of active outdoor communicators including newspaper and magazine writers, columnists, editors, photographers, cartoonists, radio and television journalists, book authors, speakers and public relations specialists.

The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association has been the curator of Louisiana State fishing records since 1940. Remember to keep the slack and set the hook strong. Until next time, have fun outdoors, be careful and God bless you!

Outdoor calendar

  • Hunter Education Program: Hunter education courses have resumed. Classroom, online with a day of field shooting and online for students 16 and over. Website:
  • Squirrel and rabbit season: until February 28. Limit of eight bags per day; possession 24.
  • Deer / Archery: Through Jan 31st, Zone 1, 2 & 4 states for deer; through February 15, State Deer Areas 5, 6 and 9; through January 15, State Deer zones 3, 7, 8 and 10.
  • Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Meeting: 9:30 a.m. Nov. 4, Joe Herring Room, State Wildlife and Fisheries Headquarters, Quail Drive, Baton Rouge.

Need a publicized event? Contact Lyle at [email protected]

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