The Atchafalaya River is falling, fast, but will it be down to a level soon enough to improve saltwater fishing in and around Vermilion Bay?

Teche Area saltwater fishermen who plan to fish the Kay-Cees Saltwater Fishing Rodeo certainly hope so as the calendar pages melt away to the big event scheduled to be held Aug. 31-Sept. 1 at Cypremort Point.

Pat Giorgio of New Iberia, fishing rodeo chairman for a third straight year, and the Kay-Cees are hopeful water conditions improve before the two-day fund-raising event for Knights of Columbus Council 3425. While Giorgio isn’t a fishermen, he has heard the tales of woe around the office this summer about the subpar saltwater fishing caused primarily by the Atchafalaya River, which got unseasonably high early and stayed high — even staying at or near minor flood stage for several months. That fresh, muddy water poured into the eastern side of Vermilion Bay via the Calumet Cut, also known as the Wax Lake Outlet.

Overall, catching fish was fair at best for the Iberia Rod & Gun Club Saltwater Fishing Rodeo. The turnout was high, though, and the competition was tough.

Over the past 1 ½ weeks, the river began dropping, like a rock. As of Friday, the Atchafalaya River stage at Butte La Rose was forecast to be in the high 11s today, according to NOAA.

Typically, most area anglers say the bay’s water starts improving, getting clearer and saltier, when the river stage is under 11.0 feet at Butte La Rose. Like they say, however, it doesn’t happen overnight. 

Giorgio, project engineer at Cabot in Centerville, is looking forward to seeing a large crowd, too, at the scales under the pavilion along Quintana Canal.

“I hope so. It all depends on the weather. Yeah, we’re looking forward to a good turnout,” Giorgio said this past week, warming up to one of his favorite subjects.

Scales will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, the first day, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Awards for the top three fish in the Kids Division, Inside Division and Kayak Division are scheduled to be presented at 3 p.m. Sunday, Giorgio said. The fishing rodeo brochure, chock full of information about rules, etc., hit the streets the first week of August, he said.

The 60-year-old project engineer said he enjoys being at fishing rodeo headquarters meeting the anglers, many of them among the increasing number of families fishing the event each year.

“The kids are coming out, fishing and having fun,” he said.

Fishing rodeo tickets are available at Himel Marine, Dago’s  Mobil & Grocery, Fortier Boat Works, Hebert’s Mini Mart, Iberia Outboard & Marine and Bayview Marina.

Tickets are $15 for each angler in the Inside Division and the Kayak Division, $5 for boys and girls in the Kids Division.

Giorgio, who has been with the Kay-Cees since 1984, said other Kay-Cee members, including fishing rodeo veteran James Boudreaux, a grand knight, Joe East, a deputy grand knight, and past fishing rodeo chairman Jason Landry, will be on hand to help along with Boy Scouts from Troop 133.

The fishing rodeo gets underway at sunrise Saturday.

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