CYPREMORT POINT — Sports dynasties inevitably come to an end.
Ask the Los Angeles Laker of the 2000s, the Dallas Cowboys, the New Jersey Devils and the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s, the Boston Celtics, New York Islanders, L.A. Lakers, San Francisco 49ers and Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s, and the Oakland A’s of the 1970s.
Add to the list the 2010s Sea Mistress, the local machine, er, big boat that churned out Best All-Around Fisherman titles and Boat Captains Awards at the Iberia Rod & Gun Club Saltwater Fishing Rodeo since 2011.
The eight-year winning streak was brought to a screeching halt Saturday on the final day of the 66th annual IR&GC Saltwater Fishing Rodeo by the never-say-die and hungry crew and skipper of the Aorta B Fishin, a 36-foot Contender that more than lived up to its name after the scales closed at 1 p.m. The Aorta B Fishin ended the Sea Mistress’ reign just as so many teams did to the Lakers, Cowboys, Devils, Bulls, Celtics, Islanders, 49ers, Oilers and A’s.
“One of my crew members told me he heard a quote, ‘To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best,’” Ryan Dearman of Denver, a Lafayette native, said just before IR&GC Saltwater Fishing Rodeo chairman announced his boat as the winner of the Boat Captain’s Award.
His boat did just that — beat the best — to make history.
Dearman returned to Acadiana to fish the three-day holiday weekend event with his buddies after missing it for the first time in 2018 to break a streak of five years participating in the Offshore Division.
Aorta B Fishin also boasted the Offshore Division’s Best All-Around Fisherman, Jordan Duhon of Lafayette, whose six fish on the final leaderboard led a crew that included Kevin Carter, Carter Kauffman, Jonathan Foreman and Michael Duhon, Duhon’s cousin, all of Lafayette, and Chris Landry of Ville Platte.
“It takes two Duhons to finally beat the Sea Mistress,” Jordan Duhon said with a laugh.
Dearman’s boat racked up 24 points to finish ahead of Sea Mistress, which had 18.4 points. The top two boats were followed in the point standings by Blake Fouquier’s Catatude, with 9 points; Patrick O’Brien’s Reel Cook’n, with 6.8 points, and Dave Richardson’s Tee Nah Nah, with 5.2 points.
That Duhon unseated defending champion Lannie Buteau, traditionally a top stick on the Sea Mistresss, wasn’t lost on him or those on Aorta B Fishin.
“He (Buteau) stays at the camp next to me. It’s pretty awesome. There’s going to be some trash talking tonight,” Duhon said with a chuckle.
Duhon’s six fish on the final leaderboard gave him 15.6 points, comfortably ahead of the Sea Mistress’ Paul Migues and Reel Cook’n’s Bill Strohe, who each had 6.8 points.
Dearman, a 31-year-old medical device manufacturing engineer who has lived the past three years in Denver, said it was a long road getting to the top at Cypremort Point.
“It took us 12 years and we finally won it. We started fishing in a 23-foot Boston Whaler and eventually graduated to a 36-foot Contender,” he said.
“Every year we took it a little more seriously. Sea Mistress has always been the best, you know. It’s bittersweet, you know. I want to hear they do well but I want to be better.”
The Sea Mistress, a 36-foot Lafco hull, was captained by Jacques Hebert and crewed by his close friend Malcolm Migues, Migues’ son, Paul Migues, Blake Patterson and Buteau.
Even as the Sea Mistress unloaded its considerable catch after tying up at fishing rodeo headquarters, Hebert and Migues, two of the most talented skippers around on one boat, had a premonition: It just might be their good neighbor at the Point’s day.
When a cart came back and it was revealed that none of the boat’s red snapper made the cut, those two veteran saltwater fishermen agreed “those weren’t rodeo red snapper.” At least, they weren’t the size customarily carried back by the Sea Mistress.
Of course, Rhett Lanie’s 23.2-pound red snapper he caught aboard Blake Fouquier’s Catatude, a 33-foot Freeman, set the bar high as a winning red snapper while the third-place red snapper was a 15.1-pounder by Stephen Guidry.
Even a fishing rodeo record couldn’t save the Sea Mistress. Patterson had it, an 11.1-pound mangrove snapper.
Still, Sea Mistress stuck eight fish on the final leaderboard. Two of them were of the first-place distinction, Patterson’s mangrove snapper and the only wahoo weighed in, an 18-pounder by Paul Migues.
Aorta B Fishin had 10 fish on the final leaderboard.
“We’ve got some salty vets, all who fished with me before,” Dearman said. “We’ve been through it all together. We’ve been through the good stuff and the really nasty stuff. It was tough fishing but we all kept our morale up.”
Most of the damage was done at Vermilion 131, Jordan Duhon said. Why?
“I think we were in a pocket of good water. I think we found the best water in the area,” Dearman said.