After a quick 7 a.m. safety meeting this Saturday, hundreds of kayakers will churn into Caminada Pass in pursuit of a redfish big enough to win the seventh installment of the Ride the Bull tournament on Grand Isle.
And if past years are any indication, the bull reds prowling the pass that morning will be greeted by at least 1,000 hooks rigged and baited in a variety of ways.
“People use lots of crab and mullet, and Bridge Side Marina will be fully stocked with bait like that,” said Rad Trascher with the Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana, who is serving as tournament director this year. “You’re fishing on the bottom Carolina-rigged or however you want to set up, in between 12 and 40 feet of water.
“So you want to get down there with some big stinky bait.”
For years, Trascher has driven a chase boat at the event, and picks up bulls that have been landed and whisks them in his livewell to Bridge Side Marina for weigh-in. So he’s seen what works on the water with hundreds of kayaks, canoes and paddle boards in relatively close proximity during fishing time.
“Make sure you have a good anchoring system. I think a heavy mushroom will work, but I’ve seen all kinds. I’ve seen cinder blocks,” he said with a chuckle. “One of the things a lot of people do is put a buoy on their anchor rope — that way if they need to detach from it, they can. That’s helpful.”
Finally, if you’re new to the tournament or to kayak-fishing in general, don’t be afraid to ask questions, he said.
“Watch what others are doing. There are plenty of folks out there who have done it before,” Trascher said. “And don’t hesitate to ask for help and assistance. This is a fun tournament where most people are willing to help you — it’s not like others where it’s a real battle.”
The tournament is catch-and-release, and participants will be given the cell numbers of all the chase boat captains so they can contact someone if they reel in a big bull.
“You can call us, you can hail us on the radio or just scream and wave, and a chase boat will come,” he said. “Once you land the fish, we will take it from you, put it in our livewell and bring it to the weigh-in.”
With the tournament only days away, online registration ends at midnight on Tuesday, Aug. 23. But on-site registration will be available for $85 at Bridge Side from 1 to 7 p.m. on Friday and 6 to 7 a.m. on Saturday.
In addition to cash and kayaks from Wilderness Systems, Trascher said there would also be prizes from Shimano, Lowrance and more.
“It’s a very lucrative tournament, with some great prizes considering what the entry fee is and the other great things you get,” he said. “We expect to pay out a lot of money with lots of prizes, too.”
The Wise Guys will perform at Bridge Side Friday night from 8 to 10, and the awards presentations will be held immediately after fishing concludes Saturday afternoon. Fishing time is roughly 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Registration is looking great,” Trascher said. “Everyone can expect one hell of a party like usual.”