What happens when you put three young, but experienced charter captains with five young anglers whose enthusiasm comes up just short of measuring on a Richter Scale?
You win the Offshore Calcutta in the 16th annual Faux Pas Lodge Rodeo.
That happened Saturday when Paradise Outfitters skippers Hunter Caballero and Scott Leger teams with fellow deep-sea guide Josh Bodenheimer for the Paradise Outfitters team that took home big money from their bluewater efforts in the three-day rodeo that benefits Wish to Fish, a program designed to put Children’s Hospital patients and underprivileged youngsters on the water with fishing rods in their hands.
It was no big secret that the team’s category-winning 140.3-pound yellowfin tuna carried the day into top money in the Offshore Calcutta, and anchored a winning weight of 171.3 pounds — combined tuna, wahoo and bull dolphin catches — in the Grand Slam Calcutta.
The giant yellowfin continued the top-drawer tuna catches off the Louisiana coast. The Faux Pas’ No. 2 and No. 3 tuna went 117.6 (Team Reel Deal) and 99.1 (Team Doin’ it Deep), and bettered the top three tuna, 87-14, 84-2 and an 81-12, from last weekend’s Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo.
There little debate that no fisherman worth his salt would turn up a nose to any of those six deepwater battlers, that outclassed the typical summertime yellowfins that usually run between 50-70.
The difference in “usual” and “rodeo” are that more charter skippers on the south side of 40 years old have learned well from the north-of-40 masters who launched Louisiana’s pursuit of massive yellowfins more than 20 years ago.
Faster boats, too, have made it quicker and more comfortable to get the 50-80 miles offshore for the early morning yellowfin bite, and improved electronics have given tech-savvy skippers eyes searching the depths for “rodeo” giants.
Those masters taught the younger crowd that chumming isn’t always the best tactic. And finding the right-sized live bait is more important than just finding live bait, because a 100-pound yellowfin is more likely to hit a 6-inch-long hardtail or an 8-inch threadfin than a much larger live baitfish. Odd, maybe, but true.
Another message Louisiana fishermen sent out loud and clear in these two rodeos is an increased willingness to catch, tag, then release prized species. Fog Cutter went T&R on three blue marlin in the Faux Pas, and four tarpon and at least six blue marlin were on the T&R list at Grand Isle.