The Big Bass Fishing Rodeo, billed as the oldest freshwater fishing rodeo in the country, returns for the 68th time to New Orleans  City Park this Saturday, March 28.

And for the second consecutive year, kayaks, canoes and other non-motorized vessels also can join in the fun in the Boats on the Bayou division on Bayou St. John.

“It’s a community event with something for every age and every group, whether it’s friends, novices or serious fishing buddies,” said Kaye Florane, rodeo chair, noting that more than 600 anglers competed last year. “There’s something for everyone.”

The land-based Big Bass division has six categories: Youth Bass, Adult Bass, Junior Anglers (12 and under for bream & cichlids,) Cichlid and Bream Trim (a team event for bream, cichlid and perch,) Fly Fishing for bass or cichlids and the Champions Challenge for past bass winners only. 

There is also a bonus prize for anyone catching the heaviest gar or catfish. 

All fishing must be done from the bank - no watercraft are allowed in the Big Bass division, with fishing hours set for 6:30 to 11 a.m. Bass must be weighed-in alive to be eligible for rodeo awards.

“Wildlife and Fisheries weighs them in and puts them in their big tubs, and after the rodeo is over, their personnel will release them back into the lagoons,” Florane said.  “We want to maintain those.”

Boats on the Bayou categories include largemouth bass, trout, redfish and trashbash (other) for trophies. 

A “Red Tag Special” bonus in the Boats on the Bayou division will offer prizes for the heaviest cumulative weight of tagged redfish. First prize is a Hobie Quest 13-foot kayak, but if no tagged redfish are caught, the kayak will be given away in a drawing to one registered boater.

The Boats on the Bayou division is a live weigh-in competition, and three weigh-in stations will be located along Bayou St. John. 

Registration for the Big Bass division can be completed online now until noon on March 27, or at the Casino Building (Morning Call Café) on the day of the rodeo from 6 to 8 a.m. Entry fees are $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under.

Boats on the Bayou registration is online only until noon on March 27, with a $15 entry fee (plus $1 for online processing.)  Fishing hours for Boats on the Bayou will be from 7 to 10:30 a.m.

The weigh-in for the Big Bass Rodeo will be conducted at the bandstand starting at 11. 

In addition to the fishing competition at the Big Bass Rodeo, the free “Fishtival” from 9 to 12 will feature lots of music, plus exhibits and activities for kids of all ages. 

There will be a casting contest for ages 6-15, demonstrations on how to fly fish and throw a cast net, exhibits from conservation organizations, and a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries touch tank. You also can buy new and used fishing gear at great prices at the Wish To Fish tent, and win a kayak or lots of fishing tackle in the $1 raffles.

For complete rules and registration information on the rodeo, which is presented in part by LDWF, visit www.bigbassfishingrodeo.com