Billed as the oldest freshwater rodeo in the country, the Big Bass Rodeo and Fishtival will be held on March 29 at City Park in New Orleans.
The Big Bass Rodeo features six categories: youth bass, adult bass, junior anglers (ages 12 and under for the heaviest perch, bream or cichlids), the Rio Grande Roundup (a team event to help rid City Park’s waters of the invasive species of Rio Grande cichlids), fly fishing for the heaviest bass or cichlids and a Champions Challenge bass division for past rodeo winners only.
Awards also will be given for the heaviest gar and catfish, but all fishing must be done from the bank in the Big Bass Rodeo.
“The one thing we tout about this rodeo that makes it so different is that it’s not a professional rodeo,” said Kaye Florane, rodeo chair. “This is a community event for the people, and an opportunity to go out there and catch bass, as well as some brackish water species now with Bayou St. John.
“We’re in the middle of an urban area. Where else can you do this? It’s pretty phenomenal when you think about it.”
New for 2014 will be a “Boats on the Bayou” event for up to 100 kayaks, canoes or other non-motorized vessels on Bayou St. John.
Boaters can participate in four different categories: bass, trout (speckled or white), redfish (tagged or untagged) and ‘trashbash,’ a catch-all category for the single heaviest fish that is not a trout, redfish or bass.
The single heaviest fish from each category in the Boats on the Bayou division wins bragging rights and a trophy.
And a “Red Tag Special” will award prizes to three registered boat anglers who bring in the heaviest cumulative weight of tagged redfish, with a first-place prize of a Hobie Quest 13-foot kayak.
Registration for the Big Bass Rodeo is $10 for adults, and $5 dollars for children 12 and under. Registration for the Boats on the Bayou division is $16, and is limited to the first 100 anglers to register online beginning March 10.
“The reason we limited the number of entries for Boats on the Bayou this year is it’s a new thing for us,” Florane said. “We didn’t want to go in and get completely discombobulated.
“We thought we’d limit it to 100 this year, get our feel for running it and next year, we’ll make it more wide open without the limitations.”
In the Boats on the Bayou division, fishing time will begin at 7 a.m. with official weigh-in at 10:30 a.m.
Online registrants for the Big Bass Rodeo will receive their rodeo wristbands in the mail and can begin fishing at 6:30 a.m. on the day of the event, which will be held rain or shine.
No refunds will be given, and Rio Grande Roundup registration is not available online.
On-site registration will be from 6 to 8 a.m. at the Casino Building on Dreyfous Avenue in City Park, and each category will have a registration table.
Fishing time for the Big Bass Rodeo starts at 6:30 a.m. and goes until the 11 a.m. weigh-in.
Anglers can fish in all areas of City Park except the North Golf Course and the K&B Sculpture Garden, which are closed to fishing.
The Fishtival is free and open to the public, and features activities for the kids, exhibits by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and raffles throughout the event, with music starting about 9 a.m.
To register online, or for more information on the rodeo, which is presented in part by LDWF, go to www.bigbassfishingrodeo.com.