Larpenter scores big at famous local rodeo

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Already a legend as the longtime and immensely popular Sheriff of Terrebonne Parish, Jerry J. Larpenter flexed some fishing muscles during the Independence Day weekend by sweeping first, second and third place in a single category at the Golden Meadow/Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo, as well as recognition for all-around best fisherman.

The sheriff said that to him the accomplishment has importance, but isn’t sure that it’s especially significant.

“It’s bragging rights,” Larpenter said. “I don’t look at it as a big crown, I’m just happy just getting out there, and I enjoy fishing.”

Being sheriff of the parish focusing on fish at the same time, he acknowledges, can be difficult. But time, tide and the behavior of the fish all conspired during the Golden Meadow event, Larpenter said, to allow a showing of which he is proud.

“He was very lucky, I’ll tell you that,” said Elizabeth Sadler, a spokeswoman for the rodeo, who works at Moran’s Marina, a host of the rodeo, owned by rodeo association president Chris Moran, at Port Fourchon.

One angler sweeping a division is not unheard of, Sadler said. But she also said it’s not that common either.

“It all depends on the day, the water and the bite,” said Sadler.

Larpenter’s standings were, respectively, 8-14, marking his first place status; 8-1 for second, and 7-13 for his third place. He also bagged the biggest string in the rat red category.

He won’t disclose the locations where he bagged his prizes, but acknowledges that he uses live bait.

“I use all kinds of things for bait but I don’t fish artificial,” he said, acknowledging that even though he has cleaned the board at other rodeos, it’s no easy task.

Larpenter grew up in Bayou Cane, north of Houma proper, and frequently fished for choupic with his father, Erin. The family often relied on what they caught in the water or on the land to eat, so fishing was a serious business in the household, Larpenter said.

For most of his younger years, Larpenter fished in fresh water throughout the parish, not catching his first redfish until the age of 30. From that time on he fell in love with saltwater fishing and often invites others to join him. Larpenter has played guide to north Louisiana sheriffs and judges, as well as people from out-of-state, and witnessing someone’s first time catching a bull red is, for him, an incredible experience.

In 2013 at the Grand Isle International Tarpon Rodeo, Larpenter set a redfish stringer record at 39 pounds, 4 ounces. There have been other records as well for the avid fisherman, who says what’s in the books is nice but is not the mark of a man.

The stats Larpenter put up on the board at the Golden Meadow rodeo was for smaller game, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable, said Larpenter, who has a simple ritual that he follows which so far has proved fairly successful.

“I look at my ice chest and if there’s no fish there I say ‘Lord please help me, I have got to get something to eat’” Larpenter said.

While the lawman won’t part with many of his fishing secrets, he is willing to share one piece of advice.

“You have to hit the tide right,” Larpenter said. “It’s all about the tide movement though I figure most people know that. When you get a good tide movement the fish is in a feeding pattern, and you want to be there when the fish turn on.”

Sheriff LarpenterCOURTESY