Steve Lessard of Team Backpacker Wins Top Prize at Paddlepalooza XVIII
Paddlepalooza XVIII Cajun Slam Winners (1st - Steve Lessard, 2nd - Mark Eubanks, 3rd - Jerry Cottrell)
I’ve fished Paddlepalooza almost every year since 2010 and have come close with a 2nd and several to tens, but never the win. With the horrible weather and 30mph winds I thought it was gonna be tough, so just stick with the basics and enjoy the adventure. Two jigs heads 1/4 and 3/16 with a gulp for the muddy water and some bright matrix Shad soft plastic. The first spot was a bulkhead with a group of other guys just staring at the muddy water refusing to launch in the 30mph winds. Well I told them let’s just cast and see what happens, well no fish but that got us going and eventually I hit several spots down hwy 23. Each stop chit-chatting with fellow anglers as we were confined to extremely protected areas, but only catching a few rat reds under 16”. My last stop was encouraging because it was facing East/west, but several other anglers were leaving with no luck. I felt like this was going to work and I had a chance with only a few hours left. I started with the gulp for reds or flounder targeting bulkheads and water in front of marsh drains “that were empty” and bam!
Nice 25” redfish. I immediately started running around looking for deep water in curves and canals. Jigging and cork were not working, so I started slowly dragging my jig on long casts. I kept feeling baitfish bumping the line or my lure, so I snapped the lure to try and scatter the bait, and bam, a nice 15.5 trout. Well I then cast on every piece of structure to find a flounder, but ran out of time.
Fun day, I thought, as I drove to the weigh in. My plan had worked for two fish. I never thought it was enough to win, but my weight was just enough to edge out long time friend and veteran Mark Eubanks. I’m grateful to BCKFC and The Backpacker for giving us this unforgettable event.