Bootsie Toups holding two trout

Veteran speckled trout fisherman Bootsie Toups shows off the two 5-pound-plus speckled trout he caught to take the top two places in a sweep of that category's three places on the final day of the Swollfest Rodeo on Saturday in Grand Isle. Toups, from Marrero, added three more specks for a 24.35-pound total to win the five-trout stringer category, too. Swollfest's three-day run raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Our Lady of the Lake's Childrens Hospital in Baton Rouge.

If you know or heard anything about Grand Isle and the speckled trout living around Louisiana’s only inhabited barrier island, then you know the names of Bootsie Toups and Terry St. Cyr, and how dedicated these two men are to their pastime.

So, it was no surprise when Toups teamed with St. Cyr for last weekend’s annual, and highly successful, Swollfest Fishing Rodeo.

Toups showed up at the scales during Saturday’s final weigh-in at the Sand Dollar Marina with two trout weighing nearly 5½ pounds, another near 5 pounds to sweep all three places on the leaderboard, then added two more 4-pound-plus specks to take the Trout Stringer category’s top prize with a near 25-pound total.

Sure it was more than 3-pounds shy of the five-trout catch their longtime friends Ed Sexton and Tony Bruce brought in to win the Catholic High Rodeo the week before — Sexton’s big fish was near 7 pounds —but Toups stayed in the Grand Isle area and the Sexton-Bruce effort came in big-trout waters near the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Know this, all four men like to use live croaker to target large trout, and St. Cyr and Toups spend hours before rodeos using small hooks baited with small pieces of shrimp to catch the just-right size, 5-7 inch-long croakers a big trout can’t resist.

Maybe the biggest surprise came from young Greysen Hebert, who topped the Children’s Division with a monster 6.1-pound speckled trout, a fish that bested the Open and Women’s divisions catches for that species.

All-in-all, this trout catch was nestled among the highlights of the 21st Swollfest.

“It was an amazing weekend. The weather was perfect all weekend, and we had 851 registered fishermen and women,” rodeo head man Dr. Nick Rauber said.

The rodeo’s heaviest catch was Kyle McSpadden’s 90.8-pound yellowfin tuna, and he backed it up with an 85-pound swordfish.

On Henderson

Thanks to Marsha Fontana for sending along the results of Sunday’s Boomie Chustz bass tournament on Henderson Lake.

With water levels falling in the giant Atchafalaya Basin, Henderson is one of the early spots to hit before the rest of the Basin reached “fishable” levels.

Brad Theriot and Yancey Rills won the day with a five-bass limit hitting 15.76 pounds, a weight showing Henderson is holding a 3-pound average for a day’s catch. While the other top teams cracked 12 pounds, word is several boats caught more than 20 keepers on a wide variety of lures. You can be sure topwaters and frogs were in the lure mix.

Hack attack back

Greg Hackney will be in the field for the 2019 Bassmaster Classic after the Gonzales national touring pro led the 110-angler field from wire to wire in the four-day Bassmaster Elite Series event on the Sabine River from Orange, Texas.

Hackney landed a 5-pound, 14-ounce largemouth during Thursday’s first round for a 16-3 catch, then added 11-15 Friday, 12-14 Saturday, then needed only 7-5 from a five-fish catch Sunday for a 48-5 total that was more than four pounds better than Alabama’s Gerald Swindle.

Hackney’s $100,000 win pushed his career Bassmaster earnings to near $2.4 million.

He said he fished secluded canals and backwaters and said he worked a quarter-ounce black Hack Attack Select ToadBuzz rigged with a black plastic toad and a KVD Sexy Frog Stump Jumper before rising water temperatures sent him back to flipping soft plastics into heavy cover.

“That’s why I won,” Hackney said. “When a lot of other guys were dialed into that (flipping) this week, I was fishing for those bigger ones with the frog and the buzzbait.”

Another point in his favor was a point made in the B.A.S.S. report: Hackney said he burned less than 12 gallons of gas through the four days, while others in the field were running as much as 300 miles each day.