CYPREMORT POINT — Flabbergasted.
When New Iberian Nicole Smith’s name was called as the Inside Division’s Best All-Around Fisher(wo)man at the end of the 61st annual Kay-Cee Saltwater Fishing Rodeo, she couldn’t believe it. Her reaction was one for the books.
As the realization sank in Monday afternoon at fishing rodeo headquarters along Quintana Canal, she laughed in disbelief.
Smith can thank a tiny flounder she caught overnight Saturday between 9 p.m. and 3 p.m. and was determined to weigh just before the scales closed at noon Monday. That flatfish propelled her from third in the overall standings after Saturday to No. 1 in the Inside Division.
As rain pelted the pavilion, Smith and her husband, Brad Smith, showed up towing their 24-foot Skeeter. Despite some teasing from her husband, she weighed the event’s second and last fish of the third and final rainy day.
“He did not want me to weigh it in. I said, ‘I am weighing it in,’” Smith said after she won the title with 137 points, rallying on the strength of that little fish to pass up Ian Broussard, who finished second with 124 points. Brooks Amy was third with 114 points but got another big prize as the Boat Captain’s Award winner in the Inside Division.
Amy skippered Fish Karma, a 24-foot Blue Wave, to the winner’s circle. It was a highly satisfying family effort fishing with his stepfather, Perry Scott, and his 12-year-old son, Hayden Amy, who also was crowned the fishing rodeo’s Best All-Around Fisherman in the Kids Division (see related story on page B2).
“It’s always good. It’s a ‘W,’” Brooks Amy said, happily, noting he and his crew of two felt the vibes after fishing Saturday.
“After the first day, I thought we’d be close, hanging in there. Like I told you yesterday, we’ve just got to finish strong.”
Fish Karma sewed up the championship with 382 points. The top boat was followed in the race by Miss Stacy, skippered by Kevin Horton, 297, and Mis Ali Claire, skippered by Chad Baudry, 229.
“We always look forward to the last rodeo of the year. It gives us a chance to get on the water before hunting modes,” Scott said.
Smith, the Inside Division’s Best All-Around Fisher(wo)man who’s in charge of outside sales for her husband’s business, Standard Industrial Services, a St. Rose-based elevator company, had no idea that small flounder would vault her to the championship. After Saturday, two days into the fishing rodeo, she trailed Broussard and Amy.
After 1 p.m. Monday, Dusty Hulin, the fishing rodeo’s interim weighmaster, called her name in front of a small crowd as the main individual winner.
“I was surprised,” Smith said in the understatement of the year.
Somewhere, her father, the late John Bourque, is smiling.
“Back in the day, my dad and brother fished these rodeos. They were heavy into these rodeos,” she said about her dad and brother, Kirk Bourque. Kirk won a boat in a Kay-Cee fishing rodeo raffle one year, she said.
“Needless to say, I grew up in a family fishing,” Smith said.
Her father, she realized, must be proud.
“He’s probably saying, ‘That girl pulled it off.’ He would have never thought this,” she said, proudly.
That the Smiths even fished the event was a surprise. The couple has been “running back and forth” with much-needed supplies to their business location in Hurricane Ida-ravaged St. Rose since the storm hit Aug. 29 at Port Fourchon.
They were back in this area Friday and stopped by Dago’s Mobil and Grocery in Lydia. Brad Smith asked if there was anything going on this holiday weekend and was told about the fishing rodeo.
“I said, ‘I guess we’ll be fishing the rodeo,’ ” Nicole Smith said.
She finished with that 0.77 flounder on the leaderboard, plus second-and third-place croaker at 0.53 and 0.50 pounds, respectively.
“It’s awesome. It’s amazing. I had a very good year. I went skydiving. I went snorkeling. Now I won a rodeo. It’s been a very good year, even with everything that’s going on,” she said, also noting that they cashed in in every fishing rodeo they fished this year, including claiming the Inside Boat Captain’s Award in the annual St. Thomas More High School fishing rodeo at Cypremort Point.
The couple fished that STM fishing rodeo here with their friends, Dr. Clint and Monique Dutile, and the Dutiles’ children, Luke and Clay, in the STM event.
Kay-Cee fishing rodeo officials were pleased they got this fishing rodeo in. The 2020 event was canceled because of coronavirus pandemic concerns and restrictions.
Hurricane Ida further complicated their plans. They decided the day after the storm’s passage to stage the event.
“It wasn’t the best but we tried. We did what we could with what we had to work with,” said fishing rodeo chairman Brian Boutte.