"The combination of the two groups ignited a fire in my life by allowing me not only to be involved in educating and supporting people with disabilities, but also in showing these individuals that through the power of God, any and all outdoor activities are accomplishable."

Trinity Outdoors Disabled Adventures' (TODA) 6th annual Bass Classic and the 2nd annual Amite River Catfish Rodeo are the next two charitable events on the calendar in our area.

This weekend on April 6, Jason Bland and his group will host the 6th Annual TODA Bass Classic out of the St. James Boat Club on Airline Highway. On July 9, 2005 Jason Bland was involved in an automobile accident that ejected him from his vehicle. Bland sustained many serious injuries, and after a yearlong battle and a fight with infection he subsequently lost his lower-right leg.

Even though this was a terrible tragedy, it was a life changing experience that enabled Bland to become a more spiritual, loving, and caring individual through all the pain and suffering. It inspired him to establish a Christian-based support organization to minister words of encouragement to other people with disabilities.

In February of 2007, Jason Bland become highly active by starting Lafayette’s first amputee support group called Acadiana Amputee Support Group. He also became a volunteer for the National Wild Turkey Federation's Wheelin' Sportsmen organization.

"The combination of the two groups ignited a fire in my life by allowing me not only to be involved in educating and supporting people with disabilities, but also in showing these individuals that through the power of God, any and all outdoor activities are accomplishable," Bland stated. "And that no matter what, 'life must go on.'"

On November 10, 2010 the Lord woke Bland up in a dream and instructed him to start Trinity Outdoors Disabled Adventures. Since starting TODA, the group has been able to bless thousands of individuals through hunting, fishing, camping, and summer faith-based camps.

Along with helping the spiritual and emotional aspects of those affected by tragedy, a big part of the ministry also brings life to those who once thought they could not do or participate in outdoor activities anymore.

The funds raised by TODA has afforded the opportunity to purchase equipment, bibles, and shirts for those with disabilities while being able bless other organizations as well. TODA has joined other national organizations that have been able to change lives and be a positive influence on those who are struggling.

"We have volunteers from every part of the state of Louisiana that are ready at the drop of a dime to lend a helping hand. Most of these folks have a child, a relative, a friend, or is disabled themselves. When people ask what ages we cater to I always answer there is no age limit. We can cater from two to 102 years old."

The tournament is a trailer event, and after check-in the teams may travel to the launch of their choosing but must return to St. James Boat Club for the weigh-in. All boats must be checked in by 3:30 p.m.

There will actually be four events to take part in. The first is the Adult Division in the bass category. Two angler teams will compete in a regular bass tournament format, weighing in five bass with a 12" size limit. The entry fee for the team is $165 dollars, including the big bass category.

Next is a High School Team Tournament using the high school format. Both anglers must be in school with a boat captain that is not allowed to fish. Entry fee for this event is $40 dollars and includes the Big Bass category.

There are two panfish divisions as well. One is for bream, and the other is for sac-a-lait. These two divisions can be one-or-two-angler teams with a $50-dollar entry and a $10-dollar big fish category. Check-in locations are the St. James Boat Club on Airline Highway, Pierre Part Store, and Courtesy Motors in Breaux Bridge.

There will be a captain's meeting at the St. James Boat Club on Thursday, Apr 4 at 6 p.m. Attendance is highly recommended by fishing teams or a representative. Failure to attend will restrict the team from protesting. All the info for this tournament and registration forms can be found at www.trinitydisabledadventures.com, or call Jason Bland at 225-715-9581.

Next, on April 13 there is a great opportunity to take part in a fly-tying demonstration and class at the Gonzales Library on 708 South Irma Boulevard. Local fly-tying legend and avid fly fisherman, Darrel Crawford, along with a group of fellow fly-tiers will treat anyone interested in the art of fly-tying.

The lesson/demo will start at 9 a.m. and last until noon. One could learn to make basic bream, bass, saltwater flies, and sac-a-lait jigs. There is no fee for this event, but you must bring your own materials.

Even if you've never tried to tie a fly or just would like to see if you would be interested, this is a very good way to spend a morning. These folks love to pass their skills along to all interested parties and you'll have a good time participating or just watching.

Lastly, I hope we just had our last cold front of the year. Most folks are ready for spring-time to settle in. The blackberry bushes are loaded with white blossoms which means cobbler and jelly time in the Johnson household. Remember to keep the slack out, and set the hook hard. Be safe in the outdoors, and may God truly bless you!

Lyle Johnson is a free-lance writer, co-host of Ascension Outdoors TV and Curator of the Louisiana State Fish Records. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net.

Outdoor Calendar

EASL Monthly Meeting: 3rd Monday every month, East Ascension Sportsman's League meeting held at Gonzales Fire Dept on Orice Roth Rd. starting at 7:00 p.m. A meal served and special speaker will be in attendance.

False River Cookie Jar Bass Tourney: Every Friday night 7 p.m.-midnight, La Express launch, Jarreau. Fee $40/boat (two-angler boats, pay at store before launching). Weekly event through spring, summer. Call Storm Randall 225-937-0489.

Turkey Seasons Open Statewide: April 7 in Areas A, B & C. Area C closes Apr. 22, Area B closes Apr. 29 & Area A closes May 6. Special Youth Season Mar 30 & 31.

Anything Outdoors Helping Kids Frog Rodeo: Postponed until June 15 due to high water. Save the date!!

Trinity Outdoor Disabled Adventures Bass Classic: April 6--Trailer Bass Tournament with weigh-in at St. James Boat Club. Find all info on their Facebook Page Trinity Outdoors Disabled Adventures, LLC.

Prairieville Broncos Bass Tournament: April 6 Doiron’s Landing Stephensville. Team tournament $160 entry fee. Captain’s meeting April 4 (location TBA). Call Scott Watson 225-610-0699, Karen Watson 225-270-1565 or email prarievillebroncosfootball@yahoo.com.

Fly-Tying Class: April 13—9 a.m.-noon, Ascension Parish Library, 708 South Irma Boulevard, Gonzales. No fee. Learn to make basic bream, bass, saltwater flies, and sac-a-lait jigs. Must bring materials. Call Darrel Crawford 225-253-4127. Email: wimpflies@gmail.com.

Need an event publicized? Contact Lyle at reelman@eatel.net