Though the St. Tammany Parish Fishing Pier reopened in January after sustaining damage during Hurricane Isaac, the parish took time on June 7 to hold a grand reopening ceremony, as well as a family fishing rodeo, to welcome the public to the popular attraction.

The pier, which is south of Slidell and just east of Interstate 10 where it meets Lake Pontchartrain, attracted a healthy crowd of adults and children who fished throughout the morning and early afternoon.

They aimed for a variety of catches, including speckled trout, catfish, black drum, croaker, redfish, flounder and sheepshead. There also was a category for largest crab landed and a special “Weigh Master’s Top Pick” was chosen.

That prize went to Barry Shelton, of Mandeville, who caught a 56-inch alligator gar on a piece of cut bait. The catch came about 10:20 a.m.

“This is my first time at the Slidell pier,” Shelton said. “I fish every day at the Mandeville pier.”

Other first-place finishers in the rodeo included Robert Gabriel, 3.2 pounds, black drum; Chris McRae, 4.02, catfish; Mike Brand, 0.78, croaker; Andrew Terranova, 3.14, flounder; Peyton Benintende, 3.8, redfish; Ashley Barnes, 5.46, sheepshead; and Henrietta Ducre, 6.5-inch crab. No speckled trout were entered into the rodeo.

In the children’s division, Hunter Trenchard landed a 1.3-pound catfish to take top honors. Other first-place winners were Collin Craddick, 0.68, croaker; and Caden Graves, who entered a 0.01-pound flounder.

Lisa Maddox, a parish official who helped coordinate the rodeo, said the event was well-attended and a success.

“We wanted to wait a few months after the opening in January to have this event,” she said. “We wanted to get the kinks out and see what the turnout was going to be.”

She said this spring, the usage has picked up.

“We’re pleased. Everybody has been catching fish, which is wonderful. You see grandparents coming with their grandkids. That’s great. Louisiana is a great place to fish, with so many waterways. But a lot of people don’t have a boat. So this is a perfect location for family and kids.”

The St. Tammany Parish Fishing Pier first opened on May 18, 2012, and had more than 16,000 individual visits before Isaac scuttled the structure less than four months later. Reconstruction began within a matter of weeks and the rebuild cost $389,000, with funding from FEMA grants and the Louisiana Tourism Recovery Program.

For information on the pier and complete usage rules, go online to www.stpgov.org.

Andrew Canulette covers recreation and leisure activities for the St. Tammany Advocate. To reach him, email acanulette@charter.net.