City Park Big Bass Rodeo set for Saturday

Ready to be a dawn-buster Saturday?

The folks at City Park in New Orleans will be happy to share sunrise with all anglers when they kick off the 66th Big Bass Rodeo & Fishtival at the park’s Casino. It’s the oldest freshwater event in the country.

Registration opens at 6 a.m., and you can fish the park’s 11 miles of shoreline along the lagoons at 6:30 a.m.

A $10 fee for adults, $5 for youngsters 13 and older — 12 and younger fish free — gets a fisherman the chance to compete in five categories: bass caught with spinning, spincast or baitcast reels; bass on a fly rod/fly reel; the Rio Grande Roundup team event to haul in the cichlids that took over park waters after Hurricane Katrina; Junior Anglers, 12-and-younger; and, a Champions Challenge. A bonus is “Catfish Kids,” for the 16-and-younger crowd with the heaviest catfish.

Kevin Schilling stirred the pot for the 66th annual event when he took what’s considered to be a City Park-record 9-pound largemouth on Mardi Gras day. He reportedly used a stickbait to break the park’s 45-year-old record of 8-1 taken by Cecil Doiron in 1968.

Fishing is only a part of the morning outing. A 9 a.m.-noon casting contest, casting lessons, tackle giveaways and informational booths will be set up around the Casino. There’s no fee for nonfishing activities.

The Central crew

When Central High Scjpp; assistant football coach David LeSage decided to involve students in a spring break activity, he believed it would be a success. In just the second year, some 40 students turned out for Saturday’s for the Central High Fishing Tournament

If there was one, the “most adventuresome team award” likely would have gone to Kirk Elbert and Jon Pizzolato, who toted a 16-pound-plus catfish to the scales at LeSage’s Sullivan Road home.

“We fished the Mississippi River,” Pizzolato said. “And we used worms,” presumably nightcrawlers.

Then there was the winning bass stringer: Darrell Henson and Tim Boudreaux defended their title with a five-bass, 20-pound stringer taken from a Zachary farm pond. Boudreaux said he’d spend his winnings on what else, “more fishing stuff.”

Micah Venable and Austin Watts had the 7.12-pound big bass from Lake Rosemond. Venable said they intended to fish a golf course’s ponds, but was turned back when “there were about 50 golfers, so we headed to the lake.”