THEN & NOW - SPRING 2020
Big Bass Rodeo A Big Easy Tradition
LDWF Pleased to Assist with New Orleans City Park Fishing Tournament
by Trey Iles, LDWF Public Information
That Louisiana is a hotbed for fishing tournaments certainly is no revelation. As you’ll note on the preceding page, Toledo Bend was just in its infancy in 1970 when BASS staged a highly successful event at the massive reservoir that straddles the Louisiana-Texas border.
Hard to believe that was 50 years ago. But on the other side of the state, there’s a tournament that’s been around much longer than that and is a revered event in New Orleans.
It began as a small spring event with a grocery store meat scale to weigh catches that has now grown into a premiere fishing tournament in New Orleans.
The Big Bass Rodeo at New Orleans City Park has become the nation’s longest running freshwater fishing competition with as many as 1,000 participants. It’s almost time again for the event with the 73rd Big Bass Rodeo to be held March 28 at City Park. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries partners with City Park to put on the event.
It was founded in 1946 by New Orleans Item reporter Paul Kalman, who spent his childhood fishing in City Park’s ponds and lagoons. A meat scale from Schwegmann’s grocery store was used to weigh the first fish the initial year.
The rodeo has grown through the years, becoming an important happening for New Orleans area anglers. And like many New Orleans events, it features a festival, known as the Fishtival. The rodeo also has added categories in recent years, including Boats on the Bayou and Battle for the Bass.
Boats on the Bayou, which debuted in 2014, allows for kayaks, canoes and other non-motorized vessels to fish on Bayou St. John for bass, trout, redfish and other species. The Battle for the Bass, put on by LDWF, was incorporated in 2016 to offer high school competition.
The Big Bass Rodeo has gained steam through the years because of the many volunteers. It even survived Hurricane Katrina.
After Katrina’s devastating strike in 2005, the rodeo was cancelled in ’06 and ’07 as City Park worked to come back from damage inflicted by the historic storm. LDWF partnered with City Park beginning in 2008. Fisheries staff joined the rodeo to help with outreach and education activities during the Fishtival as well as supplying equipment and staff for the weigh station to keep fish alive and return them to the water after the tournament.
LDWF inland biologists manage the waterbodies in and around City Park and started stocking lagoons within the park in 1999.
The rodeo is for young and old alike. Anyone 16 or older must have a Louisiana recreational fishing license to participate.
For more information on the Big Bass Rodeo, visit www.bigbassfishingrodeo.com
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