The celebrations were just as loud and the trophies just as coveted - and there was a big party - but catches were down for the two three-day, end-of-July fishing rodeos along the Louisiana coast.
Rain and heavy seas were blamed for a lower-than-expected turnout and less competitive leaderboards for both the 89th annual Tarpon Rodeo on Grand Isle and the 13th annual Faux Pas Tournament held out of Venice Marina.
Take, for instance, the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo’s Speckled Trout category.
Take nothing away from 15-year-old Sean Bouzigard of Cut Off, who won with a 4 pounds, 11-ounce trout. And don’t discount the effort Baton Rouge’s Diette Massey put forth for her 3-14 second place nor or 11-year-old Luke Richard’s 3-13 third-place entry. The young Lafayette angler was elated to weigh his trophy-winning fish in the closing hours.
But, where were the usual names, the Terry St. Cyrs, the Bootsie Toups and the Tony Bruces of speckled trout-catching fame.
“I talked to Bo (Joe Lavigne) and he told me he and Tony Bruce had battled for two days of 8-10 foot seas and dirty water to catch just a few trout,” St. Cyr said at the Sand Dollar Marina weighstation Saturday afternoon.
“I decided it wasn’t worth making that run over to the east (the Mississippi River delta) with my family,” the Lafayette “troutmaster” said. “We stayed over here (near Grand Isle) and fished the beaches. We had a great time and the kids were able to fish.”
One kid, Blake St. Cyr, Terry’s grandson, spent a day catching the croaker he, his dad and two uncles needed to make their annual assault on fish near the beaches from Grand Terre Island east to beaches near Empire.
Blake St. Cyr’s efforts were rewarded: He kept the St. Cyr family name on the leaderboard with a 36-pound, first-place redfish.
Still, for the elder St. Cyr, there was a note of disappointment.
“We’re just wondering where all the (big) trout are,” he said. “We’ve been looking for them the entire summer and really haven’t found them. Something’s wrong, but we don’t know what it is.”
The Faux Pas’ trout catches were heavier and Team Pura Vida’s 6.52-pounder topped the list. And the Inshore Grand Slam, a feature that makes the Faux Pas a special event, was a solid 15.79 pounds, the Team Tangi’s catch of a 5.12-pound speck, a 7.41-pound under-27 inches redfish and a 3.26-pound flounder.
Cynthia Bryan is a new boat owner.
The Farmerville woman, who’s competed in co-angler divisions in several Bassmaster events, was selected from among the thousands who voted in last month’s Toyota Trucks All-Star Fan Favorites Contest. Though she cast her vote for tour veteran Clark Reehm, she was picked to share her fortunes with All-Star competitor Ott DeFoe.
When DeFoe won the $100,000 winner-take-all fish-off Sunday against Edwin Evers on the Alabama River near Montgomery, Ala., Bryan won a $30,000 Triton 18XS/Mercury 150 OptiMax bass rig.
After the original 12-angler field was pared to the top eight, DeFoe, the Bassmaster Rookie of the Year, defeated Michael Iaconelli, local favorite Gerald Swindle and Evers for the All-Star title.
More for flyfishers
Anglers entered in the summer-long S.T.A.R. and weighing a speckled trout in the Fly Fishing and Kayak divisions are eligible for a second round in the special TFO Bonus Drawing, sponsored by Tackle Fork Outfitters.
“After a great response from the fly fishermen a few weeks ago, Temple Fork Outfitters has decided to expand the bonus drawing,” CCA tournament director Rad Trascher said.
The prizes will be a TFO fly rod and four TFO Gary Loomis’ Saltwater Signature Series baitcasting reels.