Big fish, fun at Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo

Bayou Gauche fishermen finish in first, third place

St. Charles Parish residents looking to mix fishing with pleasure headed to Grand Isle last weekend for the 90th Annual International Tarpon Rodeo.

For three days visitors, fishermen, business owners and local celebrities made up the more than 15,000 that gathered to celebrate the event. The rodeo offered food, merchandise, education booths, children crab races, music, fireworks and some big fish. Swamp people RJ and Jay Paul Molinere were also on hand Saturday and Sunday for photos and autographs. Each night music was provided by some of the top bands in the area, including The Wiseguys, Amanda Shaw and Rockin’ Dopsie and the Zydeco Twisters.

Many St. Charles Parish residents descended upon Grand Isle for the rodeo and took in the sights and sounds of the high-energy event.

“I haven’t been to the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo in years and we are having a great time,” Johnny Martindale, of Bayou Gauche, said.

While the music, dancing and fireworks were a big draw for many, the real focus of the rodeo was the fishing. Many stories were being told around the weigh masters’ station Saturday afternoon.

Ross Laris, of Lockport, caught his winning fish a few hours before the end of the rodeo.

“We were 80 miles offshore when we had a hit on the lines. I grabbed the rod and began fighting something real big,” he said. “The captain on our boat maneuvered us to land the 180-pound, 13-ounce yellowfin tuna. We picked up the rods and headed for the weigh station.”

The boat arrived at 5:30 p.m. with 30 minutes to spare.

Other notables were the 541-pound, 2-ounce blue marlin caught by Ross Schouest of Golden Meadow and a 165-pound tarpon caught by Ken Abney of New Orleans.

Two Bayou Gauche fishermen also placed in the rodeo. Ron Touchard caught a 29-pound, 10-ounce blackfin tuna to win the division. Chad Matherne caught a 37-pound black drum to finish in third place.


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