Hands down, thumbs up, Louisiana is a seafood nation. From crawfish to Gulf shrimp, seafood gumbo to blackened redfish, marine life swims through Louisiana culture. But if you think we find seafood all fun and filets, you’ve clearly never seen a good fishing rodeo. That’s right, we said fishing rodeo. Nope, no lassoing involved.
Fishing rodeos are large-scale tournaments where folks of all ages hit waters across the state in mighty battles for mighty big fish—oh, and the mighty glory of bragging rights and occasionally prizes topping tens of thousands of dollars. As much a part of Louisiana’s summers as festivals or flip flops, fishing rodeos turn out neighbors waving at neighbors, high school buddies making friendly wagers, kids dashing round and grandparents watching shade-side.
To experience our authentic seafood culture in action, nothing trumps fishing rodeos. They are perfect adventures for any Louisiana summer travel plans because you can’t go far without hitting one during weekends from April to October. There are annual rodeos by themes (for kids, for veterans, for novices) and on specific dates (4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day), but you can also find one by simply doing as Jack Kerouac did—just get in your car and drive. Towns like Houma and Venice and marinas like Cypress Cove or Delta Marina offer rodeos throughout the summer, ranging from bigger events, like Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic or the Empire South Pass Rodeo (second oldest fishing rodeo in the state), to small-town, smaller-scale affairs.
Of course, when it comes to rodeos, size takes the prize. And if it’s the big fish you’re after, go no further than the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo. Located at the tip of Hwy 1, just over 50 miles from New Orleans, it’s the oldest and best saltwater fishing rodeo nationwide. It offers fishermen more than 280 species to tackle, not to mention the only state-owned beach on the Louisiana Gulf Coast and some of the best seafood you’ll eat anywhere, any time.
Indeed, while the Tarpon Rodeo draws more than 15,000 fishermen, families and fun-lovers across the Gulf, rodeos across the Louisiana coast offer perfect adventures for a weekend away. Catch a rodeo one day, then take a cultural day trip to New Orleans , or continue outdoor adventures in the Delta National Wildlife Refuge or the Jean Lafitte Preserve for a truly Louisiana experience.