A south Louisiana tradition returns this weekend as the town of Grand Isle prepares to host its annual International Tarpon Rodeo.
Established in 1928, the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo is believed to be the oldest fishing tournament in the United States. During rodeo weekend, the population of Louisiana’s only inhabited barrier island swells from approximately 1,300 residents to 15,000, maybe even 20,000, tourists, anglers and party-goers, since the event is more than just a fishing contest.
Annually, anglers from throughout the south and indeed the nation come to the waters off Grand Isle to compete in a fishing competition for a number of different species including tarpon, blue marlin, wahoo, dolphin, barracuda, and yellowfin tuna, just to name a few.
Anglers also fish for numerous shoreline fish such as speckled trout, redfish and white trout.
Awards are given for first, second and third places in all categories except tarpon, blue marlin and the big-game tag-and-release division. The tarpon category will award 10 places, and there will be two places in the blue-marlin category.
Rodeo entry fee is $40, which includes a hat and rodeo program.
This year's rodeo president is Ricky Templet, and admiral of the fleet is John Georges.
In addition to fishing, the rodeo is renown for its festivities off the water as well and is sometimes referred to as one giant block party, with plenty of music, live entertainment and great food. There are craft vendors, merchandise booths and plenty of entertainment and events for everyone.
This year’s master of ceremonies will be Fox 8 weatherman Bob Breck.
Festivities shift into full gear on Thursday with fishing beginning at daybreak. The rodeo pavilion, located at the end of the island where LA Highway 1 ends, near the Sand Dollar Marina, opens at 11 a.m. with registration, food, merchandise, educational booths, and the always popular children’s crab races.
That evening, at 7 p.m., is the President’s Welcome Party open to the public with boiled shrimp and a cash bar. Entertainment will be provided by the Rockin’ Dopsie band.
Fishing continues on Friday and so do the festivities at the rodeo grounds. From noon to 4 p.m., entertainment will be provided by DJ Captain P.
Fans of the popular TV show Swamp People will get to meet R.J. and Jay Paul Molinere for autographs and photos from 3 to 5 p.m.
Entertainment will be provided by Cowboy Mouth from 6 to 8:30 p.m., followed by Foghat from 8:30 to 10 p.m.
On Saturday, the Molineres make a return visit from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Music will be provided by DJ Captain P from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Wiseguys will perform at the pavilion from 6 to 8 p.m.
At that time Bob Breck will present the rodeo awards for top fishermen and women and also the grand prize winner of the boat, motor and trailer.
At 9:30, Wiseguys will again take the stage to continue the party.
Fish caught during the rodeo are displayed after they are weighed in at the Grand Isle Pavilion all 3 days of the event. The fish are iced down and are either donated to Baton Rouge food banks or the Louisiana Dept of Wildlife & Fisheries uses them for studies.
Anglers are hoping to break the rodeo record for the largest tarpon landed at 206 pounds by Johnny Guidry of Galliano in 1973.
For more information on the Rodeo, visit tarponrodeo.org.
Reeling in a catfish is Cody Louviere from St. Amant during the 4th Annual Casting For Kids Fishing Tournament held at Boudreaux’s Motel in Leeville Saturday.
Cody and other young anglers braved the nasty weather to attend the tournament.
This Thursday, the granddaddy of all fishing tournaments begins with the International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo. The weather shouldn’t be a problem for the thousands who will descend on the Island in search of fish and fun.
Posted on Tue, July 22, 2014
by The Lafourche Gazette