Fishing the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo wasn't something Bootsie Toups did as a child, but when he began fishing the event in 1978 at the age of 23, he was instantly hooked.

"I fished with my dad in the back of Westwego, Lake Salvador, Lafitte," Toups said. "But that's nothing like the big-time speckled trout fishing I started doing.

"And Grand Isle is the perfect place for that."

In fact, Toups said fishing Grand Isle is something of a family tradition.

"I would go down on the weekends with a buddy of mine, and we would fish and catch crabs," he said. "I met my wife down there. She was born and raised on Grand Isle. I started to get bored when she was working, so I decided to get a little boat so I could get out into the bays. Then I got a bigger boat so I could get out a little farther. I met Terry St. Cyr (another of the most-successful speckled trout anglers in rodeo history), and he loved to fish for those big trout. He and Claude Hebert and Sonny Arnona, they taught me what I know about fishing down there.

"But we picked up a lot of stuff on our own, too."

Toups recalled hooking up with St. Cyr, his son Brian St. Cyr and another angler one year, and fishing in a Calcutta. It was during that side-betting that Toups hooked into the biggest trout he's caught during the rodeo.

It was a 7-pound, 10-ounce hog that wound up being the lunker in what Toups remebers as a 28-pound stringer that won first place for the team. They ran all the way to Venice to catch the winning fish — approximately a 40-mile one-way run by boat.

"We won something like $3,200 in cash in the Calcutta that day," he said. "We did run all the way to Venice to do it, but it sure was worth it."

These days, Toups is more likely to fish areas closer to Grand Isle, and his son Colby is usually along with him.

He recalled fishing the Grand Isle Bridge with Colby during the 2012 Grand Isle Speckled Trout Rodeo — a tournament the younger Toups was mere ounces from winning.

"He was first on the first day (of the three-day event), and I placed well on the second and third days," Toups said.