PORT FOURCHON — Chad Galliano isn’t old enough to remember as far back as 1978, when veteran Baton Rouge rodeo fisherman Buck Gladden hauled in what was then a Golden Meadow Tarpon Rodeo record bull dolphin.
Gladden’s 51-pound, 8-ounce giant withstood 35 years of challengers until Saturday, when Galliano brought in a much heavier fish.
Now, Galliano’s 57-8 offshore beauty stands alone in the record books in what’s now known as the Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo.
“It’s definitely the fish of this rodeo,” weighmaster Marty Bourgeois said after surveying a full leaderboard. “His bull dolphin added to a very competitive three days of fishing, a rodeo that had everything, good weather, good conditions, lots of fish. The only negative was that everyone was fishing between the moons, and the tides were a little on the slack side.”
“We were free-lining Spanish sardines for tuna when a big dolphin hit a bait on one side of the boat,” Galliano said. “We tried trolling, but the (Sargasso) grass was so heavy that we couldn’t do that.
“That big dolphin jumped, but it got off, but I was on the other side of the boat and another big one hit a bait,” said Galliano, who hails from nearby Galliano. “The fish jumped and jumped and jumped, but I got it to the boat in maybe 10 minutes and then it made another run. It took 10 more minutes to get it in.”
Another rodeo record passed into the history Saturday when Norbert Bouzigard Jr. said he was ending his more than four decades of competing in this annual Fourth of July fishing festival.
“I’ve fished this rodeo for 48 years and that’s enough,” the Golden Meadow angler said. “I won more than my share, and it’s time to hang it up.”
Bouzigard seldom heard the oohs and ahhs from his catches as others, like Galliano, get when they bring their catches to the scales.
Bouzigard has dominated the Bream category throughout the years. He swept all three places again Saturday and his fish seldom weigh a pound.
Another solid run ended Saturday, too, when the Baton Rouge-based Git ’em dive club outpointed the Helldivers, the New Orleans area-based crew, in the Spearfishing Division. Helldivers ran away with the club title last year, but the Donaldson family, Troy, Chase and Abbie, brought in enough leaderboard-quality fish to allow Get ’em to wrest the title from Helldivers.
Abbie Donaldson, Troy’s daughter, said the crew decided to dive around shallower-water oil and gas platforms and that she snorkeled during the rodeo’s last two days. Without using tanks, she speared enough fish to take the Combination category (a five-fish combo) with more than 106 pounds.
Another torch was passed from father to daughter Saturday when Baton Rouge physician Brent Bankston piloted the “Blue Line” to the weighstation, then off-loaded three wahoo taken by his daughter, Emily, who swept the category and claimed the Outstanding Fisherman title in the rodeo’s Blue Water Division.
“It was perfect weather,” Brent Bankston said. “We had blue marlin on, but it jumped and threw the hook. It was the first fish of the trip, but we recovered pretty well and caught lots of fish.”
Two other Baton Rouge anglers, Grant Mitchell and Graceann Woolf, finished first and third in that division’s Yellowfin Tuna category.
Plaquemine’s Bailee Collins beat Baton Rouge’s Caldwell Carter by one ounce to take the Outstanding Fisher-girl in the Children’s Division.