Tarpon Rodeo cranks up

By Patrick Bonin, Louisiana Sportsman

Special to the Herald-Guide

July 25 at 10:49 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Ben Benard with a 712-pound blue marlin he caught at last year’s rodeo.
Ben Benard with a 712-pound blue marlin he caught at last year’s rodeo.
The oldest fishing tournament in the United States, the International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo, is set to crank up this weekend headquartered out of Sand Dollar Marina.

Rodeo pavilion coordinator Tommy Ory said typically about 1,500 tickets are sold for the event, slated for July 24-26, and business has been brisk this year.

“The early registrations are a little ahead of last year, so we’re optimistic based on that,” he said.

Fishing will begin Thursday at daylight, with the scales closing down Saturday at 6 p.m. and the rodeo awards presentation beginning that night at 8:30 p.m.

Anglers can compete in big game, shoreline and inside divisions, as well as a tag-and-release tarpon, a tag-and-release big game division and a children’s division.

And this year, with state waters open year-round, red snapper also will be back on the board, Ory said.

All fish entered in the rodeo competition must be registered and weighed at rodeo headquarters, with legal fishing waters including all Louisiana inshore and offshore territorial waters and the Gulf of Mexico.

The official scales at the marina will close at 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. The pavilion, located next door, opens to the public each day at 11 a.m.

All registered participants are eligible to win the rodeo’s grand prize: A 21-foot Blazer Bay boat with a 150 Mercury motor.

Mail-in registration is closed, but tickets are plentiful on Grand Isle, Ory said.

“All registrations now would be at the pavilion or at the marinas on Grand Isle,” Ory said. “Pretty much any store on the island will have our tickets, so it’s not a problem to register once you get there.”

Basic tickets are $40 each and include a chance on the grand prize, a tarpon rodeo cap and a program, he said. Upgraded tickets also can be purchased for $100 and include a special cap, a fishing shirt, a rodeo poster and a second chance on the grand prize.

Musical entertainment over the three-day stretch will include Rockin’ Dopsie, Cowboy Mouth, Fog Hat and the Wiseguys.

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