The Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club held its 8th Annual Paddle Palooza kayak fishing tournament Saturday (March 26) out of Bobby Lynn's Marina in Leeville, and it turned into a record event.

While tournament organizers planned for a large crowd, no one predicted the whopping 176 participants that made Paddle Palooza 8 the largest kayak fishing tournament in Louisiana history.

The Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club held its 8th Annual "Paddle Palooza" kayak fishing tournament Saturday (March 26) out of Bobby Lynn's Marina in Leeville, and it turned into a record event.

While tournament organizers planned for a large crowd, no one predicted the whopping 176 participants that made Paddle Palooza 8 the largest kayak fishing tournament in Louisiana history.

The tournament was co-chaired by BCKFC members Bill Crawford and Denis Soignier.

"When I talked to (Crawford) about planning this thing, I told him we would set records," marina owner Bobby Gros said.

Despite extremely windy conditions, these determined kayak anglers caught hundreds of pounds of fish.

The tournament's premier prizes were awarded to those who placed in the "Cajun Slam" category consisting of a spotted sea trout, flounder and slot-sized redfish (16-27 inches). A minimum of two of the species had to be entered, and contestants who entered a full slam were awarded a 1-pound bonus.

The first-place Slam winner was Tommy Eubanks, who put together a 7.05-pound redfish, a 2.3-pound trout and a 1.65-pound flounder.  With the 1-pound bonus, his total slam weighed 12 pounds.

Eubanks' first-place prize included a Wilderness Systems Commander 140 kayak donated by The Backpacker and a $72 check.

Another popular category in the tournament is the "Leopard Redfish," where contestants try to catch the redfish with the most spots. While redfish traditionally have two spots, it is not that uncommon to catch redfish with a few extra spots.

This year's winner, Blake Gill, landed an impressive 18-spot redfish. Gill won a Hobie Quest kayak donated by Hobie.

A total of 25 prizes were awarded for first through fifth places in the Cajun Slam, Redfish, Trout, Flounder and Speckled Trout divisions. In addition to the tournament prizes, thousands of dollars in raffle prizes were also given away.

Category winners and winning weights were:

•  Cajun Slam - Tommy Eubanks, 12 pounds
• Redfish - Bill Crawford, 7.85 pounds
• Speckled Trout - Scott Hill, 5.20 pounds
• Flounder - Sherman Walker, 1.55 pounds
• Leopard Red - Blake Gill, 18 spots

Like any good south Louisiana event, the awards' ceremony was preceded by a massive fish fry that was supplied by fish caught in the tournament. Club volunteers cleaned hundreds of pounds of fresh fish that were caught by tournament participants. Then, an army of cooks fried up the fish, french fries and corn-on-the-cob.

For more information on future BCKFC events go to:  www.bckfc.org.