Louisiana Fishing Rodeos and Tournaments
You don't need a lasso! Just a line will do at these rodeos where, to win, you simply have to "geaux fish."
Hands down, Louisiana is a seafood nation. From crawfish to Gulf shrimp, seafood gumbo to blackened redfish, marine life swims through Louisiana's culture. But if you think that 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 throughout 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 around 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, you can’t go far without hitting one during weekends from April to October. There are annual rodeos by themes (for kids, veterans and novices) and on specific dates (4th of July, Memorial Day and 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, about 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, rodeos throughout Louisiana 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.
Over in Toledo Bend Lake Country, the 186,000-acre Toledo Bend Reservoir has been host to the Bassmaster Classic since 1970. Ever since, anglers have reeled in record-breaking catches in this high-stakes event. More casual fishers can head over to North Toledo Bend and South Toledo Bend State Parks on the reservior to cast a line.
Sara Hudson is a Louisiana-based freelance writer and author for GoNOLA.com.