2018 Louisiana Hall of Fame inductee Jack Hains III
Hains’ road to Hall of Fame filled with numerous twists and turns
When Jack Hains III got the phone call informing him of his election to the 2018 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, he was literally at a loss of words.
“I don’t know what to say,” he finally uttered after LSHOF Chairman Doug Ireland informed him that he was one of eight out of 134 candidates to be selected for enshrinement next summer in the $21-million facility in downtown Natchitoches.
“Wow! This is unreal,” he added. “I never expected this.”
His response was understandable, given that he becomes only the second outdoorsman to ever be elected the LSHOF. The only other outdoorsman to be inducted was the late Grits Gresham, a nationally and internationally-known sportsman/writer, who was enshrined in 1988.
In addition, Hains, a native of Rayne, has been retired from his former professional fishing career for 18 years!
Mention his name in bass fishing circles today, especially to those under the age of 50, and the conversation will likely be about today’s professional stars; people like Kevin VanDam, Mike Iacconelli, Greg Hackney, 2017 Bassmaster Classic winner Jordan Lee or a number of other of today’s stars.
For many, even in his hometown of Rayne, La., the response is: Jack, who?
After all, it has been 42 years since Hains won the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society’s Bassmaster Classic (1975) an still in its infancy, and 18 years since he last fished on a professional fishing circuit.
During his competitive years, Hains helped the sport in its phenomenal growth by not only fishing, but also becoming a speaker on BASS’ seminar circuit, which made its way around the country and attracted more and more fans.
The Classic victory, worth $15,000 ($15,590 with bonus money), was the catalyst, for that career, launching a journey that would take him from cropduster pilot to professional fisherman to fishing guide and, eventually, to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
“It’s been quite a journey,” said Hains, who will join another Rayne native, high school coaching legend, Lewis Cook, at next June’s induction of the LSHOF Class of 2018. “When I look back at all that’s happened in my life, I know it was God who orchestrated all of this.
“I just went along and he put me where he wanted me.”
Admittedly, it hasn’t always been a smooth ride for Hains, who was 25 when he won the Classic.
During his journey, he went from flying planes for his father, Jack II, who owned a cropdusting service south of Rayne, to professional bass fishing, back to cropdusting, to a brief stint in the oilfield, back to fishing as a tournament angler and guide on Toledo Bend to managing fishing operations for a long-time friend.
He became involved in youth sports at the turn of the century and presently is in charge of a new multi-million dollar sports complex in Broussard,.
“I’ve been blessed on every ride of my life,” he said. “I’ve been used by God; I realize that now.”
Hains, who now lives in Crowley, was a rookie on the BASS tournament trail, when he qualified and won the Classic.
Heading into the event, he naturally wasn’t given much attention. Legends like Bill Dance, Roland Martin, Tom Mann and Jimmy Houston, to name a few, were all seasoned veterans in the event and the smart money was one them.
So were the media and its cameras.
Which was to be expected.
Hains was a novice, having joined his first bass club - the Rice City Bass Club in Crowley - only four years earlier..
However, it was during the time in that local club that he gained a love for the sport and learned all he could about it.
One who took notice was one of Crowley’s top bass fishermen, the late Theo “Topot” Morrow.
“Topot was the man,” said Hains of Morrow, who was the owner of one of Crowley’s two boat dealers back then. “I had a burning passion for bass fishing and Topot could see it. He didn’t have a problem sharing his knowledge of mechanics and how to handle things.”
Morrow didn’t share everything he knew with Hains, however.
“Sharing his fishing spots..... now that was something else,.” Hains recalled with a chuckle. “But, really, he was a huge influence in my career.”
Another influence was his father.
“When I told him I was thinking about being a professional bass fisherman, he looked at me and said: What’s that?,” Hains recalled. “He was so good about it. He said, I’ll help you any way I can.”
Hains said he embarked on his first year on the BASS tour, he never dreamed he’d qualify for the Bassmaster Classic in his rookie year.
But when he did, it was an eye-opening experience.
All of a sudden, he was among the legends of the sport, the ones he tried to emulate.
And then, there was the event itself.
It was much different in format and prize money.
“Back then, you didn’t know a year ahead where you would be fishing (Classic),” said Hains. “We (field) all met in New Orleans and they put us on a plane the next day. When we got up in the air, that’s when they gave us charts of where we were going and where we were going to fish.”
Not only was the event kept secret until the last minute, but competitors were limited in the amount of tackle they could bring. Anglers were allowed just 10 pounds.
Hains recalled how each angler would bring his tackle box to be weighed. If was over the 10-pound limit, BASS official Harold Sharp would make it legal.
“I can remember Ray Scott would be on the microphone and say stuff like,’well, looks like we’re three ounces over, I see.” Then Harold Sharp would look at all the lures and say, ‘yep, i could use one of these (lures) for my tackle box. And he (Sharp) would take it out.’
“The thing was, he wouldn’t take the leaded stuff; he’d take your top-water lures, which we all wanted to keep.”
Being a rookie, Hains naturally wasn’t given much attention by media covering the event until after the second of three rounds.
That’s when a brutal cold front blew in and sent anglers scrambling
It also sent Hains soaring.
Hometown favorite Paul Chambley had stolen the show the first day when he weighed in 25 pounds, 6 ounces. He earned another six ounces as a bonus.
Chambley held onto the lead after Day 2, but Hains surged from the middle of the pack to second and trailed by 6 pounds going in the final day.
Conditions only worsened on Day 3, dropping temperatures, gusting winds to 30-plus miles an hour and making fishing spots unreachable for many. Over half of the field of 30 elite angles weighed in one bass or less that day.
Hains, on the other hand, weighed in six fish for 12 pounds, six ounces and he was awarded a six-ounce bonus for arriving with live fish.
That gave him a 3-day total of 45 pounds, four ounces.
Then it was a matter of waiting on Chambley to weigh in.
When Chambley showed up at the scales without a single fish, Hains found himself living a dream.
“Have you ever been higher than this?” Ray Scott asked him afterward when presenting him with the winning $15,000 check.
“No,” Hains replied. “The other day (on the flight from New Orleans) we were at 35,000 feet and I think I’m about a cloud higher than that right now.”
Looking back today, Hains reiterated that it was ‘God,’ who should get the credit.
“We had that big (cold) front move in and push all of the water a lot of places,” he recalled. “The place we were fishing was marsh, just like back home. I had a pattern where I was targeting wood and I could still find wood and catch fish after the front. Paul (Chambley) was targeting bait fish, I think, and that pattern just didn’t produce after the front. That was the difference.”
When the Classic ended, Hains had became the darling of the tournament, the commentator on the event’s highlight film showering ‘Little Jack Hains’ with praise. That video is available on YouTube.
“That was an unbelievable experience,” said Hains. “That was a lot of money back then and I needed it because in those days, you had to make enough money to fish the next one.
“Plus, it really opened up my career in the fishing industry: the sponsors started showing up.”
Hains went on from there to win $318,061 in his career, competing in six more Bassmaster Classics, finishing in the Top 10 24 times and finishing in the Top 30 35 times. In addition to the BASS tour, he also competed on FLW professional tour.
Again, though, it wasn’t always a smooth ride.
In 1979-80, he left competitive fishing and returned to helping his father with his crop-dusting service
“It was a big-time ride (on tour) and I wasn’t ready for it,” he said, looking back.
In 1982, he returned to the tour, thanks in part to two sponsors who welcomed him back and set him up: Skeeter boats and Yamaha motors.
“I called Jerry Meyer at Skeeter and asked if he’d be interested in me coming back and he said yes and he fixed me up with a boat,” said Hains. “And, at that time, Yamaha was getting into fishing and they picked me up, which really was a huge break..”
When he wasn’t fishing tour events, Hains worked as a guide on Toledo Bend and served as an instructor for BASS at some its seminars around the country.
But it was an up-and-down period in his life.
He got his competitive fire stoked again in 1986, thanks that time to Crowley native Braxton Moody IV.
“Braxton and I knew each other from our youth and one day he came visit me,” Hains recalled. “When he was there, he picked up a magazine and there was this Megabucks tournament being advertised.”
“’You gonna fish this, right?” Moody inquired.
“I told him no, I didn’t think so.”
“No,” Moody said, “you need to fish this. Tell you what: I’ll pay your entry fee and whatever you win, we’ll split.”
As it turned out, Hains finished second.
“We split $75,000,” he recalled. “That was another time that I was blessed.”
Hains went on to continue to work as a fishing guide, compete in tournaments and be a circuit speaker until 1999, at which time he made maybe the biggest decision of his life.
“At that time, I was a single parent with a son,” he said. “It wasn’t like I was frustrated (with fishing) or tired. Looking back, it was just God moving me, putting me where I needed to be.”
That is when Hains got involved with youth sports, while working some with Moody, and he eventually became the director of maintenance and operations for the West Feliciana Parks and Recreation.
And then another turn.
Four years ago, he was hired by the city of Broussard to lead its then still-in-the-planning stages multi-million dollar St. Julien Park and Sports Complex.
“That (being selected) was another blessing,” Hains said. “Every recreation director has a dream of the way he would want his fields built and they allowed me to do that and work with the architects in getting it done.”
Hains remains there today, the 1975 Bassmaster Classic and his life on the professional fishing circuit now just a fond memory and one he will get to relive and share again next June in Natchitoches, when he officially takes his place in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.