Capt. Kristen Wray, a pioneer in kayak fishing on Grand Isle and cofounder of the world’s largest kayak-fishing tournament, died early Wednesday morning after a long bout with cancer.

A native of Tulsa, Okla., Wray was 48 years old.

She and her husband — Capt. Danny Wray — operated Calmwater Charters on the island, and together founded the annual Ride the Bull kayak fishing tournament held every August.

“They really started kayak fishing on Grand Isle,” said longtime friend Chris Holmes. “Her and Danny came up with the idea for Ride the Bull. She ended up getting her captain's license, and was doing charters and eco tours on Grand Isle."

The Ride the Bull tournament, which started out as a relatively small gathering of friends in 2009, has blossomed into the world's largest kayak fishing tournament. At last year's event, more than 730 paddlers turned out to catch redfish in Caminada Pass.

“She was a friend to everybody. The thing with them and kayak fishing — they were there from the beginning for Louisiana and Grand Isle," Holmes said. "They took everybody in and guided and helped them, and helped build up the sport.

"So many people that got their start to kayak fish through Danny and Kristen, it’s amazing.”

At last year’s tournament, the Kristen and Danny Wray Kayak Launch on the north side of Grand Isle near the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries lab on Ludwig Lane was dedicated in their name. 

A memorial service for family and close friends will be held this Sunday (Jan. 17) at Pelican Pointe subdivision on Grand Isle from noon to 4 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Wish to Fish Louisiana. For more donation information, click here