Anglers reel ‘em in at annual Tarpon Rodeo

Trying to fish on the weekend of the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo can be very hard. Traditionally the Tarpon Rodeo is scheduled on the last weekend of July. Sometimes the tide ranges work in favor of anglers and sometimes they don’t.And then there’s the weather, such as tropical storms, approaching hurricanes, and frequent afternoon thunderstorms. The Tarpon Rodeo weekend doesn’t get by without some type of weathereffecting the fishing.

Even with the tide range less than one foot, at .8, we caught speckle trout and unlimitedwhite trout.

We were invited to spend Thursday and Friday at the Lottinger camp, La Casa de Buena Vista. Camp living can be a tremendous way of staying on Grand Isle for a couple days. For two days we fished, cooked and enjoyed the scenes of the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo.

The first night on the island, we fried speckle trout and John Brady cooked his tasty jambalaya. Everyone at the camp enjoyed the well-cooked meals. Eric Schaefer of Boutte was impressed with my fried fish.

Here’s my method of frying fish:

1.Prepare the fish by cutting each fillet about the width of a small fillet knife. Each piece of fish should be the same thickness. This will allow the fish to cook evenly.

2. Place in a bowl, 2 tablespoons of mustard, 1 tablespoon of hot sauce, and 2 ounces of beer. Mix these ingredients and place fish in it. This batter will cook about one pound of fish. When cooking more fish double or triple the mixture.

3. Take the fish out and dredge each piece in Zatarain’s seasoned fish fry.

4. Heat the oil, while the fish is being prepared to fry. Place one piece of fish, after battering, in the grease to test the temperature of the grease. If the grease is cooking the fish slow, turn the heat up. Like wise for fast cooking, turn the fire down.

When the fish begin to float, take them out. Remember, always watch the grease to consistently cook the fish at an even temperature.

On Friday, the tide range was going to be .8 of a foot. Not a favorable morning for fishing saltwater. We were delayed by huge thunderstorms over Elmer’s Island.

After a big breakfast of grits, eggs and bacon, we headed to launch the Kenner VX at Bridgeside Marina. Buggie Vegas informed us that there were plenty of spec’s caught Thursday along Elmer’s Island. Chartreuse, avocado, and the electric chicken beetles worked the best.

Live bait, shrimp or croakers had produced the larger fish. We reached the first flock of birds diving onto shrimp around 9 a.m. Hunter McDonald, Eric Schaefer, and myself caught good-sized white trout and occasionally a keeper speckle trout.

The action was non-stop until 2 p.m. Our first stop was at a location on the gulf side of Elmer’s Island in front of the wildlife building. The tide was not scheduled to change until noon.

The wind was blowing out of the west at approximately 5 mph. The water was beautiful clear green.

While we were fishing, shrimp would float to the surface and immediately a frenzy of birds from above and fish from below would attack the bait.

Our second stop took us to the cut along the beach. The location is 4 miles west of Caminada Pass. Fishing slowed considerably so we continued westward towards the Fourchon.

We found a spot in front of a large black barrel on the beach. Noon was approaching, and the water reached high tide.

A line of dirty water formed paralleling to the beach. On the outside of the dirty water, the clear light green water became a haven for 14 to 16 inch speckle trout.

There were plenty of trout to be caught but we called it a morning and went in.

After lunch and socializing at the camp, Gerard Danos, my nephew, wanted to make afternoon trip. So we headed out to Elmer’s Island around 4 p.m.

Again, the birds were working along island. Within minutes of reaching the birds, Hunter and Gerard were reeling in doubles of white trout and speckle trout.

The chartreuse, avocado and red, black, chartreuse, purple and white, and the black and yellow Top Dawg caught fish till sundown. On our way in, we tried bullred fishing at the bridge.

We dropped a single line of cut mullet and caught one huge hardhead.

During the course of the day, tying knots for fishing lures is essential knowledge. Going to netknot.com on the Internet will enlighten any fishermen.

Fishing around Grand Isle on the Tarpon Rodeo weekend had turned out to be easier than expected.

Our attention then turned to the night light under the big tent. Now we were going to “pass a good time!”

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