How City Park’s Big Bass Rodeo began

The Big Bass Rodeo was founded in 1946 by Paul Kalman, who spent many hours during his childhood fishing the tree-framed waters of City Park.

After serving in World War II, Kalman conceived the idea of an annual fishing rodeo, planting the seeds of what would become City Park’s Big Bass Rodeo. A reporter for the New Orleans Item at the time, he persuaded his bosses to sponsor the inaugural event.

Armed with a meat scale borrowed from Schwegmann’s original grocery store, the rodeo was launched.

Under his guidance, the rodeo grew to as many as 1,000 participants.

He passed away in 1987, but his legacy lives on with the Paul Kalman award presented to the angler 12 years old or younger who lands the largest bass.

The Joe Courcelle award has since been added to honor Courcelle’s more than 30 years as weigh master. It is given to the angler 13 years and older who lands the largest bass.