D'IBERVILLE -- Gulfport's Trent Bigot kept plugging away Saturday to overcome difficult fishing conditions and Woolmarket's Sam Hulsey's large Friday lead to take the 2016 Mississippi Bass Federation State Tournament Saturday held in nearby fresh water around D'Iberville.
The tournament was divided into anglers and co-anglers. Anglers drove the boat and decided where to fish. Co-anglers fished where the anglers choose. The top six in each class won the right to represent Mississippi at the Bass Federation District 4 National Semifinals in October. The semifinals will be held at Lake Neely Henry, a 77.6 mile-long man-made lake in the Coosa River system.
In addition to Bigot and Hulsey, both from the Back Bay Bassmasters club, Edwin Gregory and Wayne Parrish, from the Houston Hawg Callers club, Kenneth Murphy from Monroe County, and Sawyer McMurphey, also from Back Bay, will represent the state as anglers. Steve Shirley, of Monroe County, won the co-angler division with a 13.53 pounds. Forrest County's Jimmy Tisdale was second with a catch of 12.16 pounds. Curtis Seale, Tri-County, Austin Alexander, D.E.R.A., Tammy Schrock, Houston Hawg Callers, and Jay Williams. Back Bay, round out the co-angler state team.
Williams also caught the tournament's big bass, a 7.04-pounder hauled in Friday.
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"This was the greatest moment of my life," Bigot said. "It is the biggest tournament win I have."
Bigot finished the two-day tournament with 10 fish for 20.75 pounds. After leading the first fishing day with 15 pounds, including a 6.90 -pound fish, Hulsey found many of his favorite fishing holes cut off Saturday by a strong "Today was tough," Bigot said. "It was slow. But, I stayed consistent and I stayed confident. I struggled, but I ground it out all day and came up with five fish. I had good consistency over the two days of fishing."
Although Friday was marked by wet weather throughout the day, anglers said the fish were aggressive throughout the day, making for good fishing conditions. However, as the cold front moved through last night and was replaced by a high pressure system, fishing conditions became more difficult. Not only were the rivers and streams more muddy due to high levels of silt in the water, but anglers said the north wind pushed water out of the rivers and streams and into the Gulf.
Even Bigot said he had problems getting in some areas. "The place I caught my fish Friday, I wasn't able to get to, so I had to change my plan completely."
D'Iberville's Rusty Quave said the city was happy to host the tournament, noting that fishing, both salt-water and fresh-water, was a big business in the United States with anglers spending $150 billion a year to catch fish.
"It brings in people who have never been in the city," Quave said, adding that tournament anglers bought lures, meals, hotel rooms, and gas while in the city. "We have a lot of fishing around D'Iberville."
"The city did a very good job," Hulsey said. He also said the Gulf Coast Research Lab helped bring in the tournament by putting the fish back into the system after they were weighed. Anglers are penalized a half pound for each dead fish they weigh. Of the 419 bass caught in the tournament, only eight died. The rest will be released back into the ecosystem.