Congratulations to St. Tammany Parish’s Culture, Recreation and Tourism for taking a giant first step for south Louisiana fishermen.

Saturday, at the St. Tammany Fishing Pier, the parish on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain is staging its first Family Fishing & Rodeo.

It will be a celebration, and follows last year’s Children’s Rodeo on the long-awaited, post-Hurricane Katrina project that used part of the surviving north shore section of the (now “old”) Interstate-10 twin spans to build a fishing pier. Amidst the years of recovery from that disastrous 2005 storm, the pier was completed just in time for Hurricane Ike to wreak enough damage to force closure and months of repair.

St. Tammany CRT director Wensel Conroy said Saturday’s event is a try “to make sure all of the people involved with the fishing community are aware of this great resource for folks who don’t have a boat. Anyone can fish.”

Here’s what’s going down: You can be a dawn-buster with Saturday’s 6 a.m. registration and you can weigh your catch until noon. The winners will be announced at 12:30 p.m.

Conroy said there will be Adult (12 and older) and Children’s (11 and younger) divisions, and first- and second-place prizes in Speckled Trout, Catfish, Black Drum, Redfish, Flounder and Sheepshead categories along with the largest crab. Add to that, something called the “Weighmaster’s Top Pick.”

Entry fees are $10 for the Adult Division and $5 for the youngsters. If you decided to fish, but not participate in the rodeo, there’s a $3 fee along with a no-fishing $1 “sightseeing” fee.

If you don’t know about the pier, or its location, then find 54001 East Howze Beach Road. It’s just off the new I-10 twin spans. There’s ample parking.

Conroy furnished a photo of recent catches, and one (appearing with the Calendar) shows Peter Cazeaux with a giant redfish. Cazeaux said he plans to fish and will bring his 9-year-old nephew, Hunter Trinchard.

“I go Wednesdays. It’s my day off and I go early in the morning and I’m there pretty much all day,” Cazeaux said of his newly found fishing home.

Cazeaux said he uses market bait shrimp, and tries to find live shrimp, too. “I’ve caught speckled trout, redfish, big flounder, drum, sheepshead, croakers, (gafftopsail catfish), and there’s always big gar to try to catch when nothing else is biting. And you occasionally see bull sharks. You can catch off the pier pretty much everything that swims in (Lake Pontchartrain).”

If you can’t make it Saturday, then the pier is open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday to give folks a chance to fish at night.

Other coastal parishes should take the hint: Find the money, build more piers for the fishing public. They’re sorely needed.