Last Modified: Monday, July 02, 2012 7:59 PM
With 74 Southwest Louisiana Fishing Rodeos now in the books, tournament officials already are making plans for a milestone 75th.
This year’s rodeo featured 347 contestants who reeled in more than 20 different kinds of fish. For tournament director Louis Vallee, one of the best parts of the event is its enthusiasm among the local community that’s kept it going strong for nearly three quarters of a century.
“The participants are one thing, but the larger group of people who are interested and come in and see the big fish is really amazing,” Vallee said. “Just being able to last 75 years in itself is proof that it has been run right and family-oriented and everything. If it hadn’t been, it never would have lasted this long.”
Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach made an appearance on the final day of the rodeo Sunday as the final weigh-ins were tallied and awards were distributed.
Roach said the tournament exemplifies the outdoors in the Lake Area.
“This rodeo is part of the way of life in Southwest Louisiana,” Roach said. “I think it’s really great how hard these guys work to put this on. We come, we watch and we leave, but the committee that puts this on, they really are dedicated and do a great job. We’re really excited to have it here.”
Vallee said the three-day event again flowed smoothly thanks to plenty of advanced preparation. He added that another competition division could be in the works for next year’s rodeo, along with the inland and offshore fishing groups, scuba, junior anglers and tag and release.
“We’re working on something very special for the 75th, thinking about possibly adding a kayak division,” Vallee said. “That’s getting to be real popular, fishing from kayaks. If it works out like I think it will, that would be a nice addition.”
Vallee noted that it was a successful rodeo for the tag and release group. In total, four marlins were caught this weekend, three blue and one white that weighed 150 pounds hauled in by Luke Oestriecher.
“We haven’t caught that many marlins in years in the tournament,” Vallee said.
Mayor Roach has some fishing experience of his own, particularly with his grandchildren reeling in redfish at Johnson Bayou, he said.
Roach said it’s beneficial to have a notable tradition like the rodeo to highlight the natural resources of Southwest Louisiana.
“If you think about our area of the country, we’re pretty fortunate and blessed to have what we have in terms of the natural resources both inland and offshore,” he said. “It’s year round. In the summer you go fishing and in the winter you go hunting. It really makes it nice.”
A 75th annual saltwater fishing rodeo next year will make it even nicer.