Last Modified: Sunday, July 01, 2012 11:49 PM
Lance Traweek // American Press firstname.lastname@example.org
(Results of 74th annual Southwest Louisiana Fishing Rodeo results can be seen online at www.americanpress.com)
Michael Harbison, a biologist for the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, has his hands on all the fish coming off the boats. As the official weighmaster for the 74th Annual Southwest Louisiana Fishing Rodeo, Harbison weighs and carefully inspects each catch.
“We ID the fish to make sure that the fish is the correct species for the category,” said Harbison, who has been the event’s weighmaster for more than 10 years. “We weigh the fish and turn those weights in. We also may check to make sure the fish isn’t mutilated or has any other problems that may disqualify it.”
Harbison said according to the rule book, the fish must be edible and not frozen.
“It must be freshly caught,” Harbison said.
The annual competition concluded Sunday on Prien Lake. With entries ranging from king mackerel to blackfin tuna, there was plenty of top water action, said Keith Monroe, captain of the boat Great Escape.
“The snapper was also very plentiful throughout,” said Monroe. “The fishing was good and the clarity was, too.”
Fishing about 90 miles offshore, Monroe said the commutes were rougher than expected.
“Seas were a little bumpy,” Monroe said. “It makes it a little more challenging for everyone. Other than that, there was no bad weather.”
Monroe said some of the best fisheries in the world are off the coast of Louisiana.
“Most people don’t realize — no where else on the planet is there a concentration of such large fish,” Monroe said.
Monroe also said waters around an oil rig are plentiful with fish, much like an oasis in a desert.
Louis Vallee, this year’s tournament director, called the fishing rodeo “one of the oldest fishing tournaments along the Gulf Coast.”
With more than 150 trophies and plaques to give out, Vallee said the success is evident in the smiles of those proud to take part.
“If you just watch all of these kids come up and get their picture taken with their catch,” Vallee said. “To me, to see their faces and their smiles — that is the success right there. They’re all enjoying it.”
Vallee said most of the adults participating have grown up fishing.
“They go with their daddy and mother and just grow up doing it and pass it on to their kids,” Vallee said.
Jimmie Redburn, who was in the offshore angler division, has participated in the fishing rodeo since 1993. More than 300 anglers participated in this year’s competition.
“From Day 1 to today, the most exciting aspect of the fishing rodeo is seeing all of the big fish coming off the boats and weighing them in,” Redburn said. “The fishing rodeo gets the children involved in a safe sport. We develop a good friendship and good fellowship out here.”
Moby Goodwin, who is also on the Great Escape team, said this is his 15th year to be a part of the event.
“The fishing rodeo is a great opportunity for people to go out and catch fish,” Goodwin said. “It’s a lot of fun for both big boats and small boats. It’s for children and adults alike.”
Ed Dawdy, emcee at the rodeo, said he was glad the family tradition was not interrupted by Tropical Storm Debby, which lingered in the Gulf of Mexico last week.
“I think it was a success, with the bad weather a week before, we had a real good rodeo this year,” Dawdy said.
Steve Nelson, who was looking forward to turning in his prize winning catches, said the three-day event is all about “family, fun and fishing.”