Too bad Mother Nature didn’t want to join in the annual Swollfest Rodeo party on Grand Isle last weekend.
Organizer Dr. Nick Rauber said everything, save mom’s cooperation, made it another spectacular fund-raising year not that Swollfest closes in on $1 million raised for charities, notably the American Diabetes and Muscular Dystrophy associations among others.
“We did great despite the weather,” Rauber said. “Some of the fish weighed as far as quality and quantity were not as good as some past years, but we had more turnout and raised more money and the participation was excellent.”
The Offshore Division folks suffered the most, but there was enough fish in the Inshore, Women’s, Children’s and Kayak divisions to keep weighmasters at Sand Dollar Marina busy.
The weather did claim one rodeo: Matt Marchand said he had to cancel the increasingly popular Father-Daughter Rodeo out of Moran’s Marina at Port Fourchon because, “the weather was looking so bad.” He’s reset the date for July 24-25 at Moran’s. It’s the same weekend as the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo.
Come 6 p.m. Friday, the state’s Spring Inshore Shrimp Season will close for most of the inside waters from Freshwater Bayou east to the Louisiana-Mississippi line.
Areas not closed in this area include Lake Pontchartrain, Rigolets Pass, Chef Menteur Pass, the seaward waters of Lake Borgne a one-half mile from the shoreline; a part of Mississippi Sound, the “double-rig line” in Breton and Chandeleur sounds, and two small areas in the Barataria Waterway.
A map detailing the closed areas can be found on the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries website: www.wlf.louisiana.gov and look under “news.”
The closure means the spring season is the shortest on record, and comes after state biologists’ samples showed increased “quantity, distribution and percentage of small, juvenile white shrimp.”
It was bound to happen, and it did earlier this month, when Team Valenciano, that’s papa Rudy and sons Marcus and Eric, had their domination of Catholic High’s Alumni Fishing Rodeo’s Mangrove Snapper “calcutta” end.
Team High & Dry — captained by James and Mary Dry — broke the Valenciano’s streak that began when the rodeo started eight years ago. There was one year when Team “V” won by less than two ounces in the division that weighs a team’s five mangrove snapper catch. Team High & Dry was the close-second team that year.
This time around, James Dry’s five mangroves, topped by a solid 11.35-pounder, weighed out at 47.53 pounds. The Valenciano’s catch was more uniform in size, but weighed 46.21 pounds.
Another impressive catch was the winning three-redfish stringer, 22.26 pounds, brought in by Brad Zito, David Olinde and Ray Bourgeois.