There’s no busier fishing destination in the Deep South these days than the roads, marinas and waters from The Fourchon south on La. 1 to Grand Isle.
COVID-19 quieted this banter last year, but a louder fanfare began this year with the Fourth of July’s Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo. The rodeo season then sprints through the Fourchon Oilman’s Rodeo and a bunch of smaller get-togethers, and, like most years, winds up with the International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo near the end of July.
Oh, by the way, the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo is the oldest competitive fishing event in our country, and back when the founders decided to hold this wing-ding they chose to hold it on the last full weekend in July, even through the rodeo runs Thursday through Saturday.
So, this year, with July 31 falling on a Saturday, the GITR will move to its earliest ever date and begins Thursday, July 22 and runs through Saturday.
Those dates established, it means this month’s final days are open to all sorts of fishing events, and that means Mike “Big Daddy” Bourgeois’ rodeo is set July 31 at Bridge Side Marina on Grand Isle’s west end. The Salty Kids FishFest will run July 30-31 at Grand Isle Marina, which, if you don’t know by now, is the new name for the long-standing Sand Dollar Marina on the island’s east end.
The Grand Isle Rodeo’s pavilion is near Grand Isle Marina, and the rodeo’s weigh station sits between the marina and the pavilion.
New to this year’s GITR are weigh-in hours, noon-8 p.m. Thursday and Friday and noon-6 p.m. Saturday. That’s cutting some four morning hours off weigh station hours of previous years.
There’s a no-fee Children’s Division with weigh-in hours from noon-3 p.m. all three days. Kids 12 and younger must register in the pavilion.
What those new weigh-in times won’t capture is the early-morning wait for the first tarpon to hit the scales. More years than not, the first tarpon was at the marina waiting for the weigh-masters to open at 8 a.m. This year’s first tarpon will be based on the honor system — and there is “honor” among those 10-15 tarpon chasers when it comes to battling these silver kings that make their way into Louisiana’s offshore waters sometimes as early as late June, although the later in July run is better on these fish.
As usual, there are all the divisions and species categories, including a Kayak Division and a Catch-and-Release Division for tarpon and other bluewater species.
The $55 rodeo tickets are available at Puglia’s and Chag’s in the New Orleans area and seven locations from Leeville through Fourchon to Grand Isle.
For details, go to the GITRs website: tarponrodeo.org.
Coast Conservation Association Louisiana boss David Cression is this year’s president, and, for the first time, a woman, Cynthia Lee Sheng is the Admiral of the Fleet.
The Grand Isle Rodeo’s namesake fish draws ire from other states when it comes to weighing in a tarpon. Every year, either Texas or Florida anglers lodge mild protests about bringing in a tarpon to the scales.
A release from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission last week showed one reason for these passionate responses.
According to the news release, Florida FWC agents “arrested two individuals for the illegal killing of a tarpon in Key Largo, Florida. Officers are working to identify a third individual who was also involved.”
So, if you’re ever fishing for tarpon in Florida, make note of this story: “In March, the FWC received photographs and video of a large tarpon being held by three individuals on a dock in Key Largo. Thanks to tips and information from multiple witnesses, two of the three individuals were identified and additional photographs were provided showing the men hoisting the tarpon into a truck.
“Tarpon are a premier game fish in Florida and are prohibited from harvest unless the angler is in pursuit of a world or state record and in possession of a tarpon tag. They are rarely ever used as a food fish due to poor meat quality and the large number of bones. In addition, tarpon more than 40 inches long must remain in the water (including their gills) at all times.”
Bond was set at $75,000 each for the two subjects. For Florida’s tarpon regs, go to website: MyFWC.com/Marine, then find “Recreational Regulations” and “Tarpon.”
The recreational red snapper estimates from LA Creel are in through the July 4th weekend. The chart shows landings of 358,130 pounds (43%) of our state’s 832,493-pound annual allocation.
The complete landings chart is available on the Wildlife and Fisheries website: wlf.louisiana.gov/page/red-snapper.
The LDWF has set an Aug. 12 lottery-application deadline for houseboat mooring sites on Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area for the upcoming hunting season. Mooring permits will be valid from Sept. 1 through March 16, 2022, for sites at Main Delta’s Log Island Pass and Wax Delta’s Campground Pass. The fee for a two-piling permit is $300 and $500 for two or more pilings.
You can print applications from the agency’s website: www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/atchafalaya-delta, or request an application by calling (337) 735-8667, or via email from Leslie Campbell: firstname.lastname@example.org.
New federal regulations for towing time and expanded requirements for the use of turtle excluder devices (to protect small sea turtles) takes effect Aug. 1 and affects the use of skimmer trawlers nets 40 feet and greater in length across the southeastern U.S. shrimp fisheries.
If you have anything to say about coral reefs near and off our coast, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and the federal Coral Reef Conservation Program would like to hear it.
The council’s marine biologists indicated they need, “on-the-water expertise to guide our current understanding of what’s happening with corals in the Gulf. Specifically, we would like to know if you have noticed changes to the corals and coral reef habitats in the Gulf in recent years.”
The response deadline is 4 p.m. Aug. 31 to: survey123.arcgis.com/