GRAND ISLE — Wednesday, the eve of most of the past 91 Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeos, is spent in a festive boat tour off Bayou Rigaud and the eastern waters framing this, the state’s only inhabited barrier island.
Not this Wednesday: The island emptied north along La. 1 for the funeral of Paul Candies, whose family has been the constant thread through the country’s oldest competitive fish event.
The rodeo committee acknowledged the Candies family’s contributions when it named the recently constructed pavilion that serves as rodeo headquarters, children’s center and fais do-do dance-the-night-away hall for the rodeo’s three-day run for Candies’ father, Otto.
Paul Candies, 72, died earlier this week. He suffered a heart attack on his houseboat moved to Bayou Rigaud earlier this month to serve as a stopping-off point for the dozens of dignitaries who know Grand Isle and its rodeo is the place to be in Louisiana during July’s last weekend.
“We will miss him,” Bridge Side Marina owner “Buggy” Vegas said Wednesday. “He was the quiet leader of the rodeo, never flashy, just loved Grand Isle, loved the people here and loved the rodeo. He meant so much to our area that I don’t know how we’re going to replace him.”
The rodeo’s weighstation opens at 8 a.m. Thursday and runs through 6 p.m. Saturday. An addition to Saturday night’s awards ceremony is a tribute to Candies, his family and their rodeo contributions.
Before those ceremonies, there will be three rodeo-fishing days, and three days of west wind that threatened to muddy the water throughout the Central coastal waters.
“It’s not going to be easy,” longtime Grand Isle charter fisherman Danny Wray said Wednesday afternoon.
The forecast of 1-2 foot seas on 10-15 knot west winds will hinder most all anglers working shallow-water rigs on into the near-cost water and the beaches that usually produce rodeo-sized speckled trout and redfish.
“The tarpon fishermen won’t be able to spot the fish, and they won’t be able to stay on the schools (of tarpon),” Wray said. “They will be able to troll to try to find the fish, but the choppy conditions will hinder them this weekend.”
Veteran sac-a-lait pursuer Rusty Cappo celebrated his birthday last weekend when he and fishing partner Troy Kleinpeter brought in seven solid fish weighing 9.78 pounds to win the Sac-a-lait Tournament out of the Belle River Public Landing.
Reportedly, the winners fished on the Lake Verret side of the levee and launched out of Adams’ Landing, but had to trailer back to the public landing for the weigh-in.
Cappo said he caught most of his fish on a black-and-green Becky’s Jig, and said he used an original J.B. Salter jiggin’ pole to do it. What showed up in the tournament was the run on Atchafalaya Spillway fish. Some folks working the Bayou Pigeon area during the weekend and into this week caught as many as 80 sac-a-lait.
Kenneth Bergeron and Jerome Chambers teamed to finish second with 9.06 pounds, and the long-standing team of Glenn Davis and Kevin Ellis ran third at 8.64 pounds. David and Ellis had the big fish, a 1.72-pounder. Their stringers reportedly came from the Spillway.
Davis said he also used a black-and-silver Becky’s Jig. Several other teams had seven-fish limits taken on Opening Night-colored Bass Assassin shad and Black Shad baits.
The next tournament is Aug. 10. Anglers will have the same option of fishing in the Atchafalaya Spillway out of the public landing or on the Lake Verret side out of Adams’ Landing on La. 70. Call Davis at (225) 354-1811 or (225) 359-3178 for more details.