Anglers reel in special memories

BREC holds annual Geaux Fishing Rodeo

Christopher LeBlanc used a time-honored approach Saturday to claim the prize of biggest fish at BREC’s Geaux Fishing Rainbow Trout Fishing Rodeo at BREC’s Perkins Road Community Park.

He laid his fishing pole, with a line already in the water, on the ground between two glass 8-ounce Coca-Cola bottles that he stuck in the ground neck-first, placed the end of the pole against his leg and nodded off to sleep.

“I just felt it twitching while I was sleeping,” he said, smiling after his technique paid off with an 11-inch rainbow trout on his hook.

Using the same technique not more than 30 minutes later, the 16-year-old snagged and reeled in an 11.5-inch rainbow trout, the biggest fish caught at the Perkins Road park on Saturday.

His two fish were among the 15 caught by the more than 40 people who attended the Perkins Road park for the rodeo.

The event has been held annually by the East Baton Rouge Parish Recreation and Park Commission since 2008 and coincides with BREC’s yearly pond restocking.

BREC officials kept a careful eye on the participants Saturday and anytime they saw a fish fly out of the water, they walked to the person with a clipboard and measuring board in hand to make sure no one could exaggerate about the size of their fish — something that’s been known to happen in the past.

A similar rodeo was also held at 8:30 a.m. at the Zachary Community Park, 20055 Old Scenic Highway, where only eight fish were caught, one of them being a large 14.25-inch bass that took home the trophy for biggest fish at that event.

Awards were also given out for smallest fish, a casting contest held after the fishing rodeo and the overall group trophy for most fish.

BREC officials said they were lucky the weather held out long enough to hold the event.

Ivan Songne, 15, sitting near his friend LeBlanc, caught his first fish, a 10-inch rainbow trout using a fly-fishing rod and some fly-fishing tips from Erin Sullivan, outdoor recreational program coordinator for BREC.

“This is really fun,” Songne said. “I might fish more often.”

Those were words to Sullivan’s ears Saturday.

“To me, it’s not about the trout, it’s about teaching people how to fish,” Sullivan said.“I love to be a part of a child’s life when they say they caught their first fish.”

“These are the golden moments,” she added

David Chemin, 63, was hoping for a golden moment of his own with his 2-year-old granddaughter, Maddyx Bales, who came equipped with a pink, Disney fishing pole to catch her first fish.

“Hoping she does, that’s what I’m out here for,” Chemin said.

An avid fisherman, Chemin said he tries to make the fish rodeo every year and they usually go home with two or three fish.

Chemin claimed the award for smallest fish last year and history repeated itself Saturday when his granddaughter, with a little familial help, reeled in what turned out to be the smallest fish, a 6.25 inch perch.

“This is a nice little thing BREC puts on,” he said.

Another family looking to make memories on a special day were the father and son duo of Andrew St. Pierre, 34, and his son, Aiden, 5.

The two spent the elder St. Pierre’s birthday out at the pond, but had little luck, despite moving to different spots and using old standbys like kernel corn and marshmallows as bait.

Andrew St. Pierre said he was trying to make his son into a saltwater fisherman, like himself.

But his son seemed to have ideas of his own on that score.

“I like freshwater,” Aiden St. Pierre said.

Andrew St. Pierre said they go fishing together often and said they filled a boat with speckled trout over the summer.

“It’s just something we can do together that we both enjoy,” Andrew St. Pierre said.