Carla Pratt of New Iberia will celebrate the Fourth of July holiday much differently than years prior. She and her family will take to Louisiana’s waterways on their brand new bay boat awarded to her via the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation’s License to Win! Sweepstakes.
The intent of the sweepstakes was twofold – to thank anglers for their unfettered support and improve the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ ability to contact anglers through a brief fishing effort survey, LA Creel. The success of LA Creel not only allows LDWF to better manage fisheries, but ultimately maximizes the amount of fishing opportunities for Louisiana anglers.
LDWF biologists are on the dock every day, sampling catch and surveying anglers. Because of this intense coverage, LA Creel provides more precise landings estimates and allows the department to accurately count species as they are landed.
During yesterday’s announcement ceremony, LWFF Executive Director Kell McInnis presented the boat keys to Pratt and her son Colton. Pratt’s husband is currently working overseas, but that didn’t keep him from missing out on the event. Pratt FaceTimed with him on her cellphone, giving him a detailed tour of every inch of their new 22-foot Bullsbay.
“It felt like a dream. Actually, it still feels like a dream,” recalled Pratt when she received the call from McInnis informing her of her good fortune. When asked if she fished often, Pratt said, “We’re a family of fishermen, but haven’t done much saltwater fishing before. We definitely can now.”
Pratt’s son added they’re ready to take the boat out for its maiden voyage this weekend.
The boat package included a 22-foot Bullsbay boat donated by Venice Marina and fitted with a Mercury Outboard funded by Clean Water, Land & Coast, trailer donated by Mike Gerald’s Trailer Depot, prepping and rigging provided by Cajun Outboards and a credit towards a custom boat wrap donated by Picture This Advertising. In addition to the grand prize boat package, the sweepstakes included five monthly prize winners of a YETI Tundra 45 ice chest, Shimano Curado G-Loomis Combo or gift cards from Academy Sports and Outdoors, Texaco and Whole Foods Market. Additional sponsors include Faux Pas Prints and Louisiana Fish Fry.
“We particularly want to thank the sponsors who donated prizes and made this promotion a reality,” said McInnis. “Through their generosity we were able to reward anglers who are committed to helping the department provide the best data possible on our fisheries.”
“When you purchase a fishing license, you help protect, preserve and manage Louisiana’s bountiful fishing grounds for generations to come,” explained McInnis. “Fishery conservation extends beyond our angling public and touches all Louisiana residents, so we hoped this promotion also served as a motivational tool to entice those outside of the angling community and those who left the sport to support the efforts of the department and purchase a license.”
Pratt and her son walked away with the keys to their new boat and huge grins on their faces with McInnis sending them off with wishes of “many hours of pleasure on the water.”
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation was formed to provide a means for individuals and corporations to become partners with the Department and Commission in the challenge of conserving Louisiana’s wildlife and fisheries resources. It is a nonprofit, public charitable foundation, tax exempt under Section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and so recognized by the Internal Revenue Service. Its goals are to aid the Department in habitat conservation, youth recruitment, environmental education and training, natural resource research and management, regulation enforcement, and financial assistance to LDWF programs and projects.