Last year, 488 anglers stuffed themselves into little bitty boats, paddled out into Caminada Pass and dropped natural baits to the bottom in hopes of running across a redfish big enough to win Ride the Bull IV. The event set a record for the largest kayak fishing tournament in the world.
If tournament organizer Danny Wray is correct, this year’s crowd will eat last year’s for lunch.
“I told the caterer to plan on 700. We’re at 400 right now, and we still have two and a half weeks,” Wray said Wednesday. “My phone rings five times a day with Ride the Bull questions, which is a good gauge of things to come.”
The event is scheduled for Aug. 15-16 with dinner and a film festival Friday night followed by fishing from 7:15 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday. Entry fee is $65 in advance or $75 the morning of the event, and all early registrants will receive a T-shirt, safety vest, ditty bag, dinner on Friday and lunch on Saturday.
The unique format has participants leaving from Bridge Side Marina in Grand Isle and paddling out into Caminada Pass. Open waters stretch roughly from the end of the pass where it meets the Gulf to just past the bridge connecting Grand Isle to the mainland.
Chase boats patrol the area and watch for anglers who are hooked up. After an angler leaders a fish, the chase boat moves in, nets it and takes it back to Bridge Side to be tagged, weighed and released. At the end of the tournament, leading anglers claim valuable prizes including cash, kayaks, cameras, fishing gear and a YOLO Board.
Wray said the potential size of this year’s event has blown his mind.
“Man, I’d have much rather invented Velcro,” he said with a laugh. “Not in my wildest dreams did I think it would get this big. In fact, I just saw a video we did for Ride the Bull I, and I said in the video, ‘Man, it’s hard for me to believe there are 75 people here doing this.'”
Such a large crowd will tax the capabilities of the service industry on the west side of Grand Isle, but Wray said he’d never consider relocating the rodeo.
“Bridge Side is the only place to have it because you’re so close to the reds,” he said. “One of the reasons (Ride the Bull) is so popular is because it’s only a 200-yard paddle. Bridge Side will figure out how to accommodate that large of a crowd.”
A high percentage of those who have registered this year are newcomers, Wray said, and many of those are from out of state. He heard from a group of 14 coming from Houston and a group of 11 from Oklahoma registered.
For more information or to register for Ride the Bull, visit www.calmwatercharters.net.
This article reprinted from nola.com