GM-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo

Several hundreds of fun-loving Cajuns gathered inside an air conditioned tent on Saturday afternoon to enjoy freshly boiled Louisiana shrimp and the sweet sounds of Nonc Nu and da Wild Matous.

Outside the tent were hundreds more who were out in boats surrounding that same tent — hungrily seeking out the biggest fish they could find in Louisiana’s marshes.

Oh … and all of the money spent throughout the weekend will be pooled together and given back to the teenagers of Lafourche Parish in the form of scholarships.

What can possibly be better than that?

The Golden Meadow - Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo went off without a hitch this past weekend behind Moran’s Marina at Port Fourchon.

With clear skies and warm temperatures, anglers enjoyed plentiful catches throughout the weekend. Those who didn’t want to fish were also in luck, as the event’s air conditioned tent kept passersby happy while popular local bands performed and set the mood.

“This is just a great week. It always is,” avid outdoorsman, local businessman and former rodeo Admiral Trey Boucvalt said. “And we were blessed with some good weather this year. The fish were biting and look at these people here. Everyone is having a good time.”

Boucvalt mentioned the fish.

There were plenty nice ones caught during the three-day event.

The signature fish of the event is, of course, the tarpon.

And they cooperated and showed themselves at the scales throughout the week. Simone Robichaux, of Larose, won the big prize with a 149-pound, 3-ounce lunker — enough to outlast the other fish of the same species that were caught throughout the week.

Rodeo Board Member and local insurance agent Ashley Barrios joked that all that’s needed to catch the fish is a little bit of a woman’s touch. Barrios’ words may hold some merit. In the past half-decade of the rodeo, several women have now scored the top tarpon.

Rodeo President Eddie Callais said he was happy to see the namesake fish on the leaderboard this year because they’re sometimes hard to catch in early July because of their schooling patterns in the Gulf.

“People always get excited when we’re able to get a few tarpon to the scales,” Callais said. “And this year, on the first day, we had some, so that definitely got people talking.”

This year’s Admiral, local dermatologist and outdoorsman Dr. Lee Grafton agreed and said seeing tarpon at the weigh station was great. He also said that new red snapper regulations and seasons in Louisiana have helped to boost the event.

“Look at the snapper — it’s great. People are catching a lot of them,” Grafton said. “There are a lot of boats out there bringing them in. There are beautiful fish on the board.”

But aside from the big tarpon and the traditional categories, the story of the 2019 version of the rodeo is how inclusive it is for local anglers and folks who just love to pass a good time.

In addition to the usual species, the rodeo also features children’s divisions where the next generation of anglers are able to come out and support the event.

There are also spearfishing and kayaking divisions.

Don’t want to fish? Can’t handle the heat?

The air conditioned tent is massive and chilly.

Nonc Nu and da Wild Matous pumped Cajun music throughout the afternoon and many locals shook a leg and passed a good time.

In a corner of the tent were games for children and many youngsters played on their own while their moms and dads sat and enjoyed their boiled shrimp dinners.

“The tent is a game-changer for us,” Callais said. “It’s hot out there. And this gives us the chance to come in, stay comfortable and cool off.”

“It’s crazy,” Boucvalt said. “There are more people here than at the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo. The growth this event has seen is tremendous. It really is a true community event.”

And the kicker is the cause.

Proceeds for the event go to local children in the form of scholarships.

In the past several years, the rodeo has given back tens of thousands of dollars to local students — helping them secure their educational futures.

Callais said it warms his heart to see local students get money to continue their academic careers. He pointed to the children’s leaderboard and said that some of the children fishing this weekend may someday get scholarships from the event.

Grafton agreed and said the best part of being the Admiral of the event was seeing all of the good that the rodeo did for the community.

“To have people come up to you and tell you thanks for the word that you’ve done and the money you’ve raised, it’s just a wonderful feeling,” Grafton said. “It takes a lot of time and effort to put on an event this size, but when you look at it with a big-picture view, you see all of the good being done and realize that, ‘Hey, it’s all worth it.’” •

Follow Casey on Twitter for more.

Casey Gisclair is the Sports Editor at Rushing Media. A native of Cut Off and graduate of Louisiana State University, Casey is a lifelong sports fan who joined the Houma Times team in Dec. 2009 upon college graduation.

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