Bankston to head up GMFTR

When anyone has done something for 65 years, it’s special.

So Friday, when a couple thousand fishermen leave marinas and camps to compete in the 65th annual Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo, it’s a remarkable testimony to the folks in the southern reaches of Lafourche Parish who’ve made the Fourth of July more than a celebration for our nation.

For Baton Rouge physician Brent Bankston, this year’s Admiral of the Fleet, his July 4th Admiral’s Party and the next two days he plans to chase the biggest fish the Gulf of Mexico offers. For Bankston, it’s more than memorable, more than special.

“This rodeo has been a big part of my family for a long time. My family and been so locked into Fourchon that bringing Golden Meadow and Fourchon together years ago was a big step for fishermen,” Bankston said.

“It means even more because my dad was the admiral 15 years ago, and it’s an honor for me to hold that title this year.”

His dad, Albert Bankston, a Baton Rouge printing executive, ventured to Fourchon more than 40 years ago. Albert Bankston was among the first from the Capital City area to make his second home at the new digs charter skipper Charlie Hardison set up at the end of Fourchon Road.

Even more was that Papa Bankston infected his family with his love for the marshes and the Gulf’s open waters and his dreams of making it a fishing paradise. The elder Bankston developed Pointe Fourchon, a community where family, fishing and fun — and parties — swallow up thousands of spring, summer and fall hours for south Louisiana fishermen.

The rodeo committee has added two new divisions to the already strong list of specie categories. The Kayak and Bow Fishing divisions open new adventures, and there are new five-fish aggregate categories in these divisions and in the always ultra-competitive Scuba Division.

Fishing competition begins at sunrise Friday and ends when weighmaster Marty Bourgeois weighs the last fish at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Saturday, at Chris Moran’s Port Fourchon Marina, the rodeo’s second annual King of the Catch competition gathers cooks from the area who’ll compete for $500 cash prizes in three judging divisions. Rodeo attendees can taste all the dishes for a $15 fee.

More than a dozen businesses along Bayou Lafourche and on Grand Isle have rodeo tickets.

Grand Terre closure

Department of Wildlife and Fisheries secretary Robert Barham announced Friday an extention of the commercial fishery closure along Grand Terre Island east of Grand Isle.

Barham said the LDWF survey teams have found more tar mats “in the intertidal and subtidal areas of Grand Terre Islands. Some of those mats were in areas that are already closed, however some additional closures were required.”

Effective Friday, the LDWF closed waters out to one-half mile from the shoreline off the southwestern shore of East Grand Terre.

The closure read that “no person shall take/possess or attempt to take any species of fish for commercial purposes from waters within the closed area. The possession, sale, barter, trade or exchange of any fish or other aquatic life from the closed area during the closure is prohibited.”

It further stated that recreational fishing, including licensed charterboat guides, is now limited to rod-and-reel catch only.

The commercial closure includes shrimping, trawling, skimming, butterflying, crabbing, flounder and garfish gigging, castnetting, the taking of oysters, gill and hoop netting, trapping minnows, bowfishing, the use of rods and reels, jug- and set-lining, purse seining and spearfishing.

Banned recreational fishing activities include crabbing, shrimping, gigging flounder, spearing, castnetting and dip-netting, the use of bait seines, bowfishing and snagging.

The LDWF staff said the closure is the result of the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.