Lulingís Julie Hebert beat out 21 anglers from across the country to claim the top prize in the Venice Slam Tournament, which is sponsored by the International Womenís Fishing Association.
Hebert catapulted to the top spot on the final day of fishing, catching 13 bull reds and racking up 1,910 points to capture the prized Gold Disk and the top Angler Trophy. Anglers target redfish, speckled trout, flounder and largemouth bass during the three-day event.
"I was extremely excited to win in our home territory of Venice," Hebert said. "After the BP oil spill, to have this amazing estuary back is phenomenal. Itís a big plus for Louisiana and itís great to be local and win."
Hebert, who works as a permit specialist for Civil & Environmental Consulting Engineers, has fished in the tournament since 2008, but this was her first overall win.
"I have gotten several team placement awards and had the most fish on a specific day, but I had never placed first, second or third overall until this," she said.
The Luling angler caught all of her fish on 8-pound Ande Pink line, which awarded her more points because of the difficulty of landing a big fish using that line. The women left the docks every day at 6:30 a.m. and fished until 1:30 p.m. Throughout the tournament, the anglers were guided by some of Louisianaís best professional fishing guides operating out of the Venice Marina.
Points were awarded based on the size of the redfish that were boated each day. Additional points were given for each speckled trout, flounder and bass caught.
Hebert, who caught mostly reds, was in fourth place after day one and fell to seventh after the second day of fishing. She made up a lot of ground on the final day when she fished with Captain Brent Ballay by getting almost 2,000 points.
"We scouted the spots, found fish and made sure we connected with all of our bites," she said.
Hebert fell in love with fishing on the lakes of Michigan when she was only 4 years old.
"I started fishing with my Snoopy fishing pole and went on to catch bass and bluegill," she said.
After marrying her husband, Danny, Hebert began to fish saltwater.
"My husband loves to fish, so when I moved down here he taught me everything I needed to know about saltwater," she said. "I fell in love with it and it is our total passion. In fact, our boat is named Passion and we go out as many weekends as we can."
Hebert said that Godís beauty is what keeps her on the water.
"The fish, scenery, changes in water color, changes in weather and the excitement of landing a big fish (is what draws me to the sport)," she said.
This is the second year in a row that a Luling angler has won the Venice Slam Tournament. Ann Taylor, who is the executive editor of the Herald-Guide, finished on top of the competition in 2011. Judge Lauren Lemmon, also of Luling, finished in first in the team standings with Hazel Basnight.