Ride the Bull, the World’s Largest Kayak Fishing Tournament, continues to keep Grand Isle on the map as a premier kayak fishing destination. Despite a terrible weather forecast (of course, not a drop of rain fell) a staggering 698 kayakers descended on the island for the one-day event.
Started 11 years ago by Grand Isle charter captains Danny Wray and and his late wife, Kristen, the tournament was passed on to CCA Louisiana in 2016 following Kristen’s death from cancer. This was the 10th Anniversary of the event, with the second year having been cancelled due to fishing closures caused by the BP oil spill. Back on track ever since, the Wray’s dream for Ride the Bull lives on each year.
How Ride the Bull works
A live-catch, bull redfish format makes the tournament quite unique. Fishing in a specific tournament boundary section of Caminada Pass, the kayak anglers head out via a shotgun start from Bridge Side and neighboring Wake Side Marinas. Nearly two dozen “chase boats” mill about waiting to pick up the anglers’ fish and transport them to the Bridge Side dock. At the dock, the fish is promptly weighed, measured, tagged and released back into the pass.
Despite the good weather and sustained tide movement, the bulls proved a bit elusive this year. Only 25 bulls made it to the scales, although many anglers were kept busy with non-tournament eligible species like black drum, sharks, jack crevalle, stingrays and of course, hardhead catfish.
Tournament fishing time was stopped a half-hour early due to fast-approaching storm clouds. However, the weather system broke apart and passed the island without causing any wind or rain.
“With that many kayak anglers spread across the pass, we must take safety seriously,” said RTB Tournament Director, Rad Trascher with CCA. “We only lost a half hour of fishing and it was the right call.”
This year’s champ
When all the weights were tallied, the RTB 10 Champion was Kevin Schexnaider of Erath. He caught his 26.8-pound bull just a few minutes after the tournament began and it held on to be the heaviest brought to the scale.
“I’ve fished the tournament the last three years and never caught a bull,” he said. “This one made up for that.”
Not only the largest kayak fishing tournament, Ride the Bull is one of the most lucrative for winners. Tournament sponsors Wilderness Systems Kayaks and the Backpacker provided five premier kayaks for first through fifth places and sixth through 10th won prize packages stuffed with kayak and fishing related gear.
Schexnaider towed home a Wilderness Systems Atak 140 with Helix PD Pedal Drive and Apex Carbon Angler paddle. Add to that a Torqeedo 403 electric motor, Mike Gerald’s Trailer, Lowrance HDS7, Powerpole Micro, custom Marine Mat, a livewell, Shimano combo and Marucci tackle box. The combined package has a retail value of over $8,000.00.
In previous years, random participants showed up wearing various costumes. This year, an official costume contest was held. There was a clown, Spiderman, Chickenman, disco-yaker, pirate, bull rider, Walter White and more. The chase boat captains narrowed the field to their top-five and then the audience chose the winner. Brad Valtierra is no stranger to Ride the Bull and the leader board. However, it appears he proved the myth that bananas on a boat are bad luck. Valtierra outfitted his kayak with bananas, monkeys and he became Banana Man. It worked — or didn’t, as the case may be. Valtierra did not catch a fish. However, he had other luck. He won the contest and took home a decked-out Wilderness Systems kayak provided by contest sponsor Hancock Whitney Bank.
For more information on the tournament, check out the CCA Louisiana website or Ride the Bull Kayak Fishing Tournament Facebook page.