Father’s Day and fishing go hand in hand, much like Mother’s Day and apple pie.
Realizing that, St. Tammany Parish Culture, Recreation and Tourism hosted the first Family Fishing Rodeo on Saturday — mere hours before families around the country will gather for a Father’s Day celebration. The event was held at the St. Tammany Fishing Pier, which abuts the north shore where I-10 East meets land east of Slidell.
About 200 people participated in the event, which was geared to those who fish as families. For a modest fee, everyone was able to wet a line by 6 a.m. Saturday, with the final weigh-in at noon. There were numerous categories for children and adults, who were awarded prizes.
Richard Arcement, a Lockport native and Slidell resident, fished with his grandson, Hudson Carroll. Though they had yet to catch a fish by late morning on the pier, they were having a whale of a time — walking the planks of the new pier and venturing onto the concrete structure that once was part of the Twin Spans Bridge.
“This is what it takes to make a good, long life with your children and your grandchildren,” Arcement said.
Carroll often fishes the ponds behind his house in Slidell, he said. He was extra excited, however, to be out on the pier with his grandpa.
“We are having a lot of fun,” Arcement said. “We caught a 6-inch catfish so far, but being out here is important, whatever we catch.”
Ron Fogarty and his grandson, Grant Bridges, also of Slidell, also fished Saturday.
“I used to go down far in the Gulf (of Mexico) when I was kid, and this is way to share some of that with him,” Fogarty said. “St. Tammany has a beautiful pier, which we can have as a family gathering. It’s just great.”
Bridges said he’s fished only twice in his life, but is eager to learn more. His grandpa spurred some of that interest.
“This has been fun,” the fourth-grader said.
Those are the types of experiences St. Tammany Parish officials were seeking when they announced the rodeo.
“This is about fathers with theirs sons, grandfathers, a whole bunch of family members,” said Wensel Conroy of St. Tammany’s Director of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. “It’s been cross-generational. ... You don’t have to have a boat to fish here. It’s very inexpensive. And you can catch your dinner. It’s just been a great way for families to recreate.”
Case in point was Cody Falgout, who brought his 8-year-old nephews, Luke and Noah, to the pier. Though the Waggaman native didn’t register for the rodeo, he landed what easily would might have been the catch of the tourney — a nearly 70-pound alligator gar.
Even though he wasn’t eligible for top rodeo honors, Falgout was happy to bring his nephews a hearty dose of excitement.
“I always fished with my dad, and I lost him, and then (I lost) my mom last year,” he said. “But watching (Luke and Noah) watch me catch that gar was awesome. I’m the father figure this time. This made their year. Even though they didn’t catch it, they enjoyed it as much as me.”