Two snapper

Kemper Tullier strains to hold the two nearly 11-pound red snapper he caught during Friday’s first day of the annual Catholic High Alumni Fishing Rodeo at Port Fourchon. The 12-year-old St. Aloysius Catholic School student was the leader in the Youth Division.

Fish, frenzy, frolicking, fun, sweat, sob stories, weather (fair and foul), beer (and other icy concoctions), water, waves and friends all add up to rodeo time in south Louisiana.

It all started along our state’s Central Coast this weekend with the annual Catholic High Alumni Fishing Rodeo held from Moran’s Marina on Fourchon Road.

Yes, there were red snapper — lots of them by reports from Friday’s first day — and maybe too many for offshore fishermen to be overjoyed by the prospect of returning to any dock with nothing but these red beauties. 

Remember last fall’s report from the Great Red Snapper Count showing Gulf of Mexico waters holding more than 100 million red snapper, more than three times the number federal fisheries folks were telling us were out there.

Yet, four of the Gulf states are holding to a two-per-day limit per angler.

Several fishermen returning from offshore excursions told of thick schools of red snapper in waters from 50-100 foot depths around every underwater structure, including wrecks, natural reefs, rigs-to-reef locations and oil/gas platforms in the Timbalier and Lake Pelto blocks and found red snapper everywhere.

Most of the snapper were in the 5- 10-pound range, and the offshore guys and gals, to a person, said they gave up on trying to catch other species now that greater amberjack and gray triggerfish seasons in state and federal waters are closed.

One group aboard Chris Moran’s charter went after mangrove snapper, and had success, but only after hitting several rigs to take five to six mangroves before the red snapper came in to spoil the action.

Seems the chum Moran’s crew used to draw the mangroves from under the rig worked for several minutes before the red snapper came in to chase the mangroves back in to the rig.

For offshore trips, the promise appears to be far offshore seeking species like wahoo, bull dolphin, cobia and yellowfin tuna, then hitting the wrecks, reefs and rigs on the way back to port to take their two-per-person red snapper limit.

And that’s likely the course most offshore anglers will use for the remainder of the rodeo season.

Lest we forget

Anyone worth their salt as an American should honor this day; Louisiana lost many sons this day in 1944, and had 10s of thousands committed to ending a world-enveloping war.

We enjoy the freedoms to fish and hunt because men and women dedicated their young lives to give us those which we have today.

What’s next?

Swollfest, Free Fishing Days and what’s being billed as the Virtual Youth Fishing Rodeo are coming up this week.

Swollfest, the brainchild of Dr. Nick Rauber, has added a day, and will run from Wednesday through Saturday at Grand Isle Marina, the new name for what has been Sand Dollar Marina for generations.

Rauber said there’s no weigh-in nor festivities Wednesday. Scales will be open from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday with a Kids’ Zone and music those three days.

The all-volunteer Swollfest has raised more than $1 million for its major benefactor, Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, and contributes to the Outdoor Wish Foundation which sponsors outdoor adventures for disabled children and military veterans.

You can use the registration website: swollfest.org.

  • By decree, Louisiana’s Free Fishing Days come Saturday and Sunday. It’s proclaimed to go hand-in-hand with National Boating and Fishing Days. You don’t need either a basic nor a saltwater license to catch fish in our state those two days.

However, if you’re heading offshore, you need to have a no-fee Recreational Offshore Landing Permit (wlf.la.gov) if you want to bring any reef fish back to a Louisiana port or dock.

  • The free Virtual Youth Fishing Rodeo began last year at the height of the pandemic.

This second go-round runs from 7:30 a.m. through 8 p.m. Sunday, is open to all young anglers ages 15 and younger, and the best part is you fish anywhere in the state, fresh or saltwater.

It’s sponsored by the Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges Complex and the Friends of Louisiana Refuges, and there are prizes drawn from among those who send in a photo of young angler holding their catch.

There’s a little more to it: in the photo, the youngster must hold a participant flyer or handmade sign reading “#GeauxFish” or “#GetYourFishOn” or “#YouthFishingRodeo2021.”

Then send the photo via email: virtualfishingrodeo@gmail.com or to the SLNWR Complex Facebook page “@Southeast Louisiana.”

To download the participant flyer, go to to website: www.fws.gov/refuge/Bogue_Chitto/YouthFishingRodeo.html.

If you don’t have a printer, then download the flyer to a smartphone and hold the phone up in photo with youth and their catch, or you can use a newspaper to verify date of catch.

The photos must be received by 4 p.m. Monday, June 14.

If you need more, call (985) 882-2015.

  • Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs is getting into Boating and Fishing Days with a Thursday ceremony to donate rods and reels to Elite Sports of Baton Rouge and the Boy Scouts of Denham Springs.

Then, on the weekends of June 12-13 and June 19-20, youngsters will be able to catch a fish from the store’s catch-and-release pond, take home a “First Fish” certificate and beginner’s guide, and attend free seminars, crafts and photo downloads of their catch.

Catfish Derby

Wildlife and Fisheries, through its Get Out and Fish! Program, is stocking 15 ponds around the state, including eight in the southern parishes, for a Tagged Catfish Derby through Friday.

Anyone catching, then reporting, a tagged channel catfish will receive a fishing prize pack. You must have a basic fishing license if you’re 16 and older.

The south Louisiana stocked-ponds sites include, Purple Heart Memorial Park Pond in Ragley, 1-10 Park in Jennings, Girard Park in Lafayette, Southside Regional Park/Fabacher Field in Youngsville, Bayou Country Sports Park in Houma, Zemurray Park in Hammond, Bogue Chitto State Park in Franklinton and Joe Brown Park in New Orleans.

To report catching a tagged fish, call (855) 728-8247, or go the the LDWF website: wlf.louisiana.gov, then the “Fishing” tab, then find Get Out and Fish!

After that

The annual Blue Jay Fishing Rodeo (Jesuit High in New Orleans), the Cut Off Fishing Club’s 17th Fishing Rodeo, the 72nd Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo and the granddaddy of them all, the International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo are all Advocate Outdoors has on its schedule.

Knowing there are more, email dates and other info to: jmacaluso@theadvocate.com.

  • The Blue Jays Rodeo begins a 6 a.m. June 18 with the final weigh-in June 19 at John Ryan Stadium (the school’s baseball field) and the Wally Pontoff Pavillion at 100 Blue Jay Way in Metairie. Entry fees are $45 for adults, $30 for 18-and-under fishermen and a $15 food-refreshments only ticket at the weigh-in.

The registration website: one.bidpal.net/bluejayfishingrodeo.

  • The Cut Off Fishing Club’s event, a fundraiser for South Lafourche High School, will set up June 17-19 at Bridge Side Marina on Grand Isle. There are all the usual inshore and offshore categories for Adult and Youth divisions, with the addition on hardhead catfish and pinfish for the youths. Entry fees run $15 & $20, and includes June 18-19 meals. There’s a crab race for 12 and younger set June 19 at 3 p.m.

For more, call Roy Dubois (985) 693-7184/(985) 258-5110 or Lon Griffin (985) 278-2706, or go to website: cutofffishingclub.com.

The Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo will run July 1-3 with weigh-ins at Moran’s Marina July 2-3, and all rodeo festivities surrounding this annual Fourth of July fishing marathon under the big tent at Moran’s.

The Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo is set for the rodeo pavilion with daily weigh-ins July 22-24 at Grand Isle Marina.