CYPREMORT POINT —An anti-climactic and well-deserving individual title in the Junior Division and two rousing rallies, one for Best All-Around Inside Division Fisherman and another for the Inside Division Boat Captain’s Award, highlighted the end of the 66th annual Iberia Rod & Gun Club Saltwater Fishing Rodeo.
Faith Landry of Patoutville led wire-to-wire on her way to netting a Junior Division Best All-Around Fisherman title and huge trophy, plus a fishing rod, that were awarded Saturday afternoon at fishing rodeo headquarters along Quintana Canal. Landry’s 70.1-pound garfish highlighted the first day of the three-day holiday weekend event, one of the three fish she stuck on the board on the Fourth of July.
Kyle LeBlanc of New Iberia, fishing only his second IR&GC Saltwater Fishing Rodeo, wasn’t even in the top three in the point standings for Best All-Around Fisherman in the Inside Division after Thursday. LeBlanc, who managed a third-place trophy in one category last summer, surged into the lead Friday and held on without wetting a line Saturday to claim the big trophy after fishing with Matt Migues of New Iberia in Migues’ 15 ½-foot Eric Romero aluminum hull.
Hunter Romero’s Miss Communication, a 24-foot Nautic Star he got two months ago, was in the runner-up spot for the Inside Division’s Boat Captain’s Award after Thursday. Romero and his crew, however, came on strong the second day and owned the lead going into the third and final day of competition Saturday.
That kept it a clean slate as none of the defending champions successfully defended their titles.
“He’s the man,” Migues, who was born and raised in Lydia, said, happily and proudly about LeBlanc, a 27-year-old mechanic at Delta World Tire in New Iberia.
LeBlanc hadn’t received his hardware yet but the results were posted on the leaderboard in the Inside Division. The final tally had LeBlanc with an unbeatable 422 points, just ahead of first-day leader Lainie Moss on the Miss Communication, who had 348 points, and Angelic Broussard, who finished with 274 points.
LeBlanc won with a second-place slot redfish at 7.79 pounds, a second-place flounder at 1.11 pounds and a third-place flounder at 1.04 pounds.
“We fished in Marsh Island in the ponds,” he said about his two trips with Migues.
The flounder that stuck on the board were caught on Down South soft plastics, a “Texas roach” color (black with gold glitter and a chartreuse tail), he said.
“I mean, we did all right. We caught a few,” he said.
Romero’s first fishing rodeo in his new boat was one to remember.
The New Iberia outdoorsman fished all three days with his wife, Rachel, and brother-in-law Brandon Moss and his wife, Lainie Moss.
The Miss Communication, his boat, is derived from the name of his company, Service Communications, he said. The key to winning? Communication, he said with a chuckle.
Seriously, he said, he and his hard-fishing crew persevered in trying conditions.
“All three days, through the heat. It was hot,” he said.
And Romero was proud of the four fish his boat had on the final leaderboard when the scales closed at 1 p.m.
He had first-place sheepshead of 4.15 and 4 pounds while Lainie Moss had a first-place redfish at 29.9 pounds and a third-place garfish at 39.1 pounds.
“Fishing was hard. It was all about playing the tides and we were thankful for good weather. It was hot but it wasn’t rough,” he said.
Miss Communication tallied 775 points, followed by Glenn St. Germain’s Lil Saint with 535 and Lynn “The Bear” Hebert’s Bon Temps with 291.
There was a loud, raucous cheer for Faith Landry when she was announced as the Best All-Around Fisherman in the Junior Division. Before accepting her awards in front of her parents and friends, she reflected on the past three days on the water with her father, Gerrit “T-Blu” Landry of Patoutville, and her friend, Evie Sherville, and Evie’s father, Nick, in the Gotta Have Faith, a 23-foot Key West.
She finished with a first-place redfish at 28.8 pounds and one of the highlights of the fishing rodeo, a 70.1-pound garfish. Both fish were caught on the same day.
“If I wouldn’t have caught that fish (garfish), there’s no way I would have won today,” she said.
Going into Saturday, despite leading the first two days, she said, “I was a little nervous, I guess, anxious and excited. I knew I had a pretty good little lead but I was still nervous.”
Faith finished with 649 points, comfortably ahead of Matthew Latham’s 458 points and Drew Guillot’s 380 points.
She credited her dad, who operates Gotta Have Faith Charters, for her success.
“Ah, oh my God, we wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for him. I think he knows the water and where you have to go certain days. He just knows,” she said.