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Guess who Miss Louisiana beat fishing?

Miss Louisiana Courtney Hammons and her winning Ouachita River crappie!

Well, you can add somebody else to the list of people who have beaten me fishing. Now, before my fishing buddy George can chime in “I thought everybody you fished with beat you” let me say this. I have beaten a few people, like George, but there’s no need to go into details.

The latest to beat me? A young lady named Courtney Hammons. Many of you may know her as Miss Louisiana 2020. Courtney teamed up with pro crappie fishermen Mark McClure and Frank Haidusek to catch a 2.11 pound

slab Thursday morning. The fish won her the First Place in the Media Day fishing competition preceding this weekend’s Crappie Masters National Championship on the Ouachita River.

And to set the record straight, she beat a bunch of folks this morning! The real tournament will consist of two days of fishing with weigh-ins around 3 p.m. at Forsythe Park in Monroe on Friday and Saturday. More than 100 teams from numerous states are here for the $130,000 event. Fishermen can weigh in seven fish per day both days and the total weight wins the top prize. Fishermen qualified for the event through various Crappie Masters tour this year.

Fishing was a bit slow, but all the contestants were wide awake after taking 60 mile and hour boat rides of various lengths up and down the river in 60 degree temps with a light rain blowing in their faces. But with only two hours of fishing time, the fact that it took a two-pound-plus slab in post-storm conditions speaks well of the river’s fisheries.

Others fishing the event included local members of the media, special guests and local dignitaries like Monroe Mayor Friday Ellis and West Monroe Mayor Staci Mitchell. They both did pretty well, with Mitchell catching a 1.89 and Ellis a 1.71. I’m not certain, but I’m thinking there may be a rematch in the future!

I fished with AJ Howell of KNOE Sports and Josh Lovett, a pro fisherman and full-time guide on Kentucky Lake. We didn’t quite make the top three, but I tried by dipping into the Engel Cooler to weigh in of my minnows with our biggest crappie. It still wasn’t enough. We had a great time and Josh even took us to one of his best spots to try and get the biggest fish. It was a long boat ride, but worth the chance for one big bite. I kidded him about going so far that game wardens in three different states could have tried to check our fishing licenses.

There were lots of stories told, friendships made and great publicity generated for the event. But with a crowd made up of the likes of fishermen, outdoor writers, politicians and media there, there may be some question as to whether the truth of the morning ever totally comes out or not.

The weigh-in is open to the public and is being sponsored by the Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Tourist Bureau.

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