The much anticipated 89th Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo got off to a rocky start this past weekend with tropical storm Don entering the Gulf of Mexico.
Fortunately for Louisiana, the storm went west, but it still kept away the record crowds that were expected for this year’s rodeo after a year hiatus due to the oil spill.
On Thursday, the start of the rodeo, Mother Nature threw fishermen a curve. The winds blew out of the south at 15 to 20 miles per hour, while tropical storm Don entered the southern Gulf of Mexico. Fishermen wanting to fish Timbalier Bay, Terrebonne Bay, the Fourchon, Elmer’s Island, Grand Isle, Grand Terre, Four Bayous Pass and offshore were restricted to the inland Barataria Bay due to the wind and waves.
Add the Mississippi River water to the equation and fishing had stalled.
We tried fishing with live bait, croaker and shrimp and plastic baits without catching any fish. A few bull red fishermen managed to catch redfish at the changing of the tide near the Grand Isle Bridge with cut mullet, crack crab and squid.
The strong south wind did not let up until late Friday afternoon.
A small group of anglers and I took advantage of the milder conditions on Saturday and headed out to Caminada Pass. We caught schooling speckled and white trout under the birds with white/yellow chad rigs and 2-inch H&H glow and chartreuse sparkle beetles. Other anglers reported catching specks near the rocks on the back side of Grand Terre on live shrimp under a cork.
“This is one of the best trips I’ve had fishing in Grand Isle,” Matt Vennett said.
“I like it when everyone is catching fish in the boat,” Siana Cassagne added.
Bouncing the baits off the bottom in 8 feet of water was the technique used to catch 40 good-sized white and speckled trout.
How does a fisherman win the 89th Grand Isle International Tarpon Rodeo?
Winning the rodeo is very simple – just catch the biggest Tarpon in three days of fishing. Most fishermen relish the moment just to have their names on the board in the 25 plus categories, but having your name up on the board the first day usually guarantees that you will be knocked off on the third day.
This was not the case for Ken Abney, of New Orleans.
He brought in a 124-pound, 6-ounce tarpon on the second day and claimed the Champion Trophy at the close of the 89th Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo. Patrick Cenac, of Houma, was second with a 99-pound, 5-ounce tarpon, and Tommy Hebert, of Houma, was third with a 69-pound, 4-ounce tarpon.
The big talk of the rodeo was the tripletail caught by Terry Vegas, of Grand Isle. He was fishing with a live croaker next to the Grand Isle Bridge in Caminada Pass when he caught the seventh largest tripletail in state history.
But still, the poor fishing conditions offshore reflected the results of the big game division, which were less than average.
“I think a lot of fishermen got beat up in the really bad stuff Friday and said, ‘The heck with this’ and stayed in.” Marty Bourgeois, weighmaster said.