Anglers bring their fish to the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium.
The Daily Review/John Flores
Saltwater Weigh Master Edwin “Tootie” Fuselier measures a redfish.
John Flores: Scaled-down Oilfield Fishing Rodeo is a success
When Johnny Acosta pulled up to the weigh-in at the 8th Annual Morgan City Open Fishing Rodeo this past Saturday, he pulled the one fish he planned to weigh out of an ice chest.
To the oohs and aahs of those gathered outside of the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium watching, Acosta handed off to the weigh master a big river run blue catfish. The fish weighed 12.30 pounds, more than enough to win the Catfish Division of the rodeo and take home a check for $480.
It was Acosta’s first time fishing the event. And, from the smile on his face when he hoisted up his big cat, it probably won’t be his last.
Putting weight on the scale for a shot at a pretty darn good purse is only one part of the annual competition. The other part is what it means to young people in the form of educational scholarships.
Shiela Hue, who was on hand helping and representing South Louisiana Community College – Young Memorial Campus said, “The Morgan City Oilfield Fishing Rodeo is a non-profit organization and the money goes towards scholarships. After the entrants have been awarded, whatever is left over is divided between Nicholl’s State University and the Young Memorial Campus. Students have to apply for it and are asked for it to be related to marine or anything they’d be doing perhaps offshore or related to the oilfield. So, it’s for those kinds of classes and it’s the same thing with Nicholls State.”
Other first-time entrants were Thad Buford and his son Drew Allain who entered the most popular and crowded redfish category. Bufford, from New Iberia, mentioned how some time ago, how he and his son wanted to fish redfish. At the time, fuel was expensive, and they needed something small that was easy on gas. They came across a 1966 Boston Whaler that had gone through a hurricane. Father and son put together a deal and with hard work got the boat into shape.
The father and son duo weighed in three redfish totaling 25.65 pounds and took home a third-place check of $500. Also, not bad for fishing the rodeo for the first time.
Dane Daigle weighed in 25.88 pounds of redfish beating out Buford and Allain by just under a quarter pound. Bradley Matte put 27.22 pounds of redfish on the scale to take first place and a $1,000 check.
Dylan Vaughn won “Big Fish” in the redfish division with a 13.46 pound red.
Due to the COVID-19 virus, Saturday’s rodeo was conducted on a reduced scale from previous years.
Chris Bourgeois, one of the event organizers, said, “Because of the virus we aren’t doing a lot of things we’ve done in years past. Once we received the mayor’s OK to hold the tournament, we decided to do everything outside and not solicit any donations or things like that. We wanted the entrants to just fish and have a good time. Usually, we go inside the auditorium and boil crawfish and cook, but this year we just wanted to keep the event going.”
Daigle, owner of DHD Offshore in Morgan City, sponsored four separate teams in the tournament as a way to contribute to the local community.
Daigle said, “This is a great deal for Morgan City, Louisiana. We don’t have many things to look forward to — the oilfield being down — it really hurts a lot. It’s been down that way for the past couple of years. We get up, it gets down, but with an event like this we all get together and figure out a way to have fun. We put up a little money to help a cause and it’s just a great deal that we really enjoy.”
Daigle and Hebert decided to fish well east of the Atchafalaya River saying the high, dirty water locally impacted the fishing below Morgan City. They targeted redfish in shallow ponds and site fished using Slug-Go artificial baits.
Three trash fish were weighed in. One alligator gar and two black drums weighed 12.88, 18.70 and 19.40 pounds, with Dale Crochet winning the trash fish category with his black drum that was just ¾ pounds above the second-place finisher.
In the bass division, Casey St. Romain took home first place honors with a whopping 23.15 pound five-fish stringer along with a $525 check. Dwight Barbier took second place with 14.45 pounds and Bill McCarty was third with 13.25 pounds.
Kirk Peterson put a 5 pound bass on the scale that won “Big Bass” in the tournament.
Though the number of entries were down for this year’s event, organizers of the Morgan City Oilfield Fishing Rodeo remained positive and excited about the turnout. No doubt, next year’s tournament will be more upscale with less restrictions and, hopefully, a waning COVID pandemic.