“Pink is my signature color.” This line from “Steel Magnolias” went through my head more than once while watching the participants of the Sixth Annual Grand Isle Ladies Fishing Rodeo arrive dockside at Bridgeside Marina Saturday afternoon. Not only is pink the signature color of the main character of said movie, but it’s also the signature color of anything having to do with Breast Cancer Awareness, and believe me, there’s no way anyone could attend this magnificent event and not be aware.
The launching of this fund-and-breast-cancer-awareness-raising fishing rodeo was welcomed by two beautiful days of fair skies and calm seas, starting on Friday, October 5 at sunrise. Yours truly fished the first annual back in the fall of 2007 but has not attended the last four due to scheduling conflicts. This year, my plans to put together a three-woman fishing team were put on hold due to my recent battle with a little bout of flesh-eating bacteria. But the island was calling to me, nonetheless, and ignoring all the motherly advice given by caring friends, I cast care to the following winds and set sail for the island on Day 2 of the rodeo.
With my friend Capt. Mark ready and waiting with a live-well full of freshly-netted porgies, I hopped right into the bay boat, and we headed out to the Gulf to see what awaited us there. We were met with lots of hungry fishes grabbing the bait instantly and snapping lines over and over . Once I was finally able to set the hook on a fish, it turned out to be a healthy red fish that weighed in at a very disappointing 27.4 pounds, as the winning bull red came in at over 34 pounds!
Soon after, I was finally able to hook and land one of the thieving fish that had the tackle box almost devoid of Kale hooks. It was a fish that Capt. Mark had never seen this far inland before–a Spanish Mackerel. Even though they snatched my bait, hook and all, many times, they were still lots of fun to catch when hooking them was possible. Since there was no category in the rodeo for these beautiful fish, we released them back to the sea-green water.
Back at the marina, weigh-in time came soon enough and for the next two hours boats of all shapes and sizes, loaded down with women wearing all sorts of costumes, pulled up and offloaded their loot. More than 150 women fished this fundraising competition, with a total of more than 1000 tickets sold at $20 each. In addition, several local charter captains and companies had been collecting donations for the cause and offered them up at the awards ceremony. They caught red and black drum, speckled trout, flounder, catfish, cobia, to name a few of the species on the leader board.
While we enjoyed a delicious supper of jambalaya, fantastic door prizes flowed from the stage like water, followed by an auction of donated art work, fishing gear, bicycles, and more. And just when I thought I couldn’t stand one more minute of fun, it was time for the costume contest. After fishing all day, some of these teams still had enough energy to sneak off and change into some amazing getups. The winner of the contest was a group with the slogan “KISS Cancer Goodbye”, and from the photo below, you will see why. After the costume award was given, all chairs were cleared, the band cranked up, and the dancing began. This old lady cashed in her chips around 10 p.m., but the rest of those committed party-fishing animals danced until the very last note resounded from the Bridgeside pavilion.
It’s no big secret that men have more than their fair share of fishing rodeos and all the fanfare that goes with them, but there’s nothing quite like boatloads of women vying for the bragging rights of catching the big one or going home with the coveted award for having the most original anti-breast-cancer costumes. Of course, while women were in the majority at this rodeo, there was a smattering of brave men there who offered their charter services, toted heavy ice chests, and cooked some delicious food for all of us lady folk. Our fishing hats are off to them with many thanks.
To say the Sixth Annual Grand Isle Ladies Fishing Rodeo was a success is sort of an understatement and well, just way too ho hum. Hundreds of ladies fished hard for two days, weighing in over 300 fish in 14 categories. Afterward, they gave generously, and they partied hard. Over $20,000 was raised, with $5000 going to each of these institutions: Terrebonne General Medical Center’s Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, The American Cancer Society, Lady of the Sea’s Wig Room, and Thibodaux Regional Medical Center. If you love fishing as much as I do and hate breast cancer equally as much, well, there’s just no better way to spend Columbus-Day Weekend.
So, will I see you there next year?
PS My finger is still healing up, and just so my mother-figures don’t get mad at me–please let me clarify that all I did was hold the rod and crank the reel. I didn’t cast, I didn’t touch any seawater, any bait, or any fish AT ALL. I was a very good girl. I promise.