If people concentrated on the really important things in life,
there’d be a shortage of fishing poles. ~Doug Larson
To welcome springtime fishing, New Orleans City Park will host its Big Bass Rodeo and Fishtival, the oldest freshwater rodeo in the country. This 66-year-old event attracts over 600 participants and affords an opportunity for anglers of all ages and backgrounds to catch those elusive lunkers for bragging rights and trophies.
Unlike high caliber bass fishing tournaments, this nonprofessional rodeo encourages families and friends to enjoy a day in the park. This year’s Rodeo will be held on Saturday, April 6th with registration beginning at 6:00 a.m. at the Casino Building (presently Morning Call Café).
Fishing begins at 6:30 a.m. and weigh-in ends at 11:00 a.m. by the Bandstand. The entry fee is only $10 for Adults (13 and older) and $5 for kids (12 years and under). Be sure to visit: www.neworleanscitypark.com/bigbass for details, online registration, registration forms, rules & regulations and a fishing map.
There are 5 fishing categories:
1. Bass by baitcaster, spincast or spinning reel.
2. Bass by fly rod and reel.
3. Team Event-Rio Grande Roundup for the team bringing in the heaviest stringer of cichlids.
4. Junior Anglers for those 12 years and under catching the heaviest single bream or cichlid.
5. Champion’s Challenge for past 1st place winners of the Bass category compete against one another for the largest bass.
Catfish Kids is a bonus for those 16 years and under catching the 3 single heaviest catfish.
The Fishtival complete with music by a DJ begins at 9:00 a.m. (its free!) around the Casino and Bandstand area and offers activities for young and old alike. A special section for children by Wish To Fish La. offers a casting contest for ages 6-15, free casting and cast net throwing lessons and other activities. Wildlife educators from Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries will have demonstrations and exhibits as well as their pellet-shooting trailer. Numerous other exhibitors include local artists, ecology, wildlife, conservation groups, kayak displays, live “critters” to pet and more! And if you are feeling lucky you can participate in the $1 raffle for great fishing and outdoor gear including a fishing kayak or the $5 raffle to win one of 3 charter boat fishing trips with well known Captains C.T. Williams, Dudley Vandenborre or Aaron Gelfand. The popular Mardi Gras toss of fishing tackle during the awards ceremony affords an opportunity to put up your hands and catch baits to fill up your tackle box.
The Big Bass Rodeo was founded in 1946 by Paul Kalman. Paul spent many hours of his childhood fishing the tree-framed waters of City Park. For Paul, it was an angler’s urban heaven. After serving in World War II, Paul 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. So armed with a meat scale borrowed from Schwegmann’s original grocery store, the Rodeo was launched. Under his guidance, the rodeo grew to where it drew as many as 1,000 participants. Although he passed away in 1987, his legacy lives on today with the Paul Kalman award presented to the angler 12 years old or less who lands the largest bass. The Joe Courcelle award has since been added to rodeo to honor his 30 years plus serving as Weigh Master and is given to the angler 13 years and up landing the largest bass.
Mark your calendar for Saturday, April 6th and try your luck to catch a record-breaking bass. Good Fishing!
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