When Annette Ducote set the hook on a big bull in Caminada Pass Friday evening, it didn’t take long for her husband to realize the fish had a good shot at ending up somewhere on the leaderboard of the 56th annual Grand Isle Redfish Rodeo.

“When she hooked into it, we knew it was a big fish based on the fight it was giving. Using a spotlight, we were able to see the fish several times before we got it close to the boat and we could tell it was a definite contender because of the sheer size of it,” Chris Ducote said. “Our biggest fear then was just to get it in the boat and not lose it.”

What he didn’t realize then was the big bull — a 41.34-pounder — was in fact heavy enough to endure two full days on the leaderboard, and ultimately claim the overall top spot for Annette in the three-day Labor Day Weekend event out of Bridge Side Marina.

“She actually won three categories: first place second day, biggest redfish for a female angler and best overall redfish for the entire rodeo,” said Ducote, of Port Allen. “She was pretty pumped up, especially to finish first place overall and in the women’s category.

“She was pretty stoked about it.”

Chris, Annette and their crew were fishing in his 22-foot Blazer Bay around 9 p.m. Friday when the big red inhaled a piece of cut mullet.

“We were both free-lining live croakers and fishing off the bottom,” said Ducote, a frequent poster on the LouisianaSportsman.com forum under the user namer letumgrow. “This particular fish hit on the bottom.”

Ducote’s rods were rigged up with 8/0 hooks and 30-pound Big Game Trilene for both the main line and the leader, so they took their time battling the big red.

“We don’t use braid,” Ducote said. “We do that because when we hook sharks we want them to break off immediately so you don’t sit there and fight a shark for an hour and waste time.

“Once we realized how big it was we didn’t horse it. We kind of backed off because we didn’t want to take a chance of snapping the line, so we made sure it was played out real good before we boated it.”

Ducote estimates his crew caught about 60 bulls over three days, all of which were released to fight another day except for four brought to the scales at Bridge Side. 

Annette collected two trophies and a 120-quart ice chest with the victory, claiming the overall top spot by less than a pound over the second place fish.

“We’ve been fishing this rodeo right at 20 years I guess, and we’ve done real good,” he said. “We’ve placed numerous times over the years, but never first place.”