Grand Isle has the oldest continuous saltwater fishing event, the International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo, in the country, and, after 732 fishermen showed up Saturday, the largest kayak fishing event in the U.S.
Ride the Bull 5 pulled paddlers from 17 states and two foreign countries. It’s no secret that RTB has claimed a world spot among the more extreme kayak/paddlecraft events.
Danny and Kristen Wray had help from pioneer “yakers” in organizing the inaugural RTB in 2009, the year before the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, but the year’s absence only made the thought of battling a giant redfish from a small watercraft grow fonder of the allure. The event has doubled in size ever since.
Kalley LeRoy, the Denham Springs skinny-water angler, was among a double handful of fishers working from something other than a kayak. Aboard her paddleboard, she landed RTB’s heaviest red, a solid 26.14-pounder.
She wasn’t the only woman in the top 10: LSU gymnastics coach D-D Breaux finished eighth with a 22.08 redfish.
The event started Friday evening with a meal and, for the third year, the Calmwater Film Festival. Kristen Wray said there were 22 entries. Films are limited to videos taken from kayaks no matter the location. Wray said a review group cut the field to the top 10, then the audience voted Team Hooked on Yak, a group from the Bayou Lafourche area, to take home the top prize.
While most anglers use a Carolina rig — a heavy egg sinker on the line ahead of a barrel swivel with at least a 4-foot leader with hook affixed — and cut mullet for bait, the most productive bait was cracked crab. They found mullet attract sharks, too.
RTB6 is set for Aug. 15, 2015.