CYPREMORT POINT — Keo Khamphilavong knows how to recover from surgery, which he had several weeks ago followingan appendicitis attack.
The New Iberia contractor goes fishing. After going a month without fishing, it was time over the Labor Day Weekend to get out on the water in and around Vermilion Bay.
“I was excited to be back on the water,” Khamphilavong said about his participation in the 60th annual Kay-Cee Saltwater Fishing Rodeo.
“It was an excuse to go fishing. It was nice,” he said after fishing with regular crew members Randy Migues and Craig Landry, both of New Iberia. Migues fished both days while Landry was able to make it Sunday in Khamphilavong’s 22-foot Blazer Bay.
Khamphilavong and Migues caught 50 speckled trout Saturday and the three fishermen boated 20 speckled trout Sunday. They missed some heavy speckled trout both days, Khamphilavong said.
The 54-year-old angler did more than participate. Much to his surprise, he left fishing rodeo headquarters as the Best All-Around Fisherman in the Inside Division.
He finished with first- and second-place speckled trout weighing 1.23 and 1.04 pounds, respectively, and a third-place flounder at .55 pounds. The biggest speckled trout and the flounder, which paved the way to the individual title, were caught Sunday.
“It was enough to do it, I guess,” he said about his rise to the top of the point standings.
Khamphilavong racked up 148 points to finish ahead of Brad Romero Sr., 128, and Jeff Reaux, who had 120.
Mostly, he had fun, he said, then added water conditions are improving slowly and surely since the Atchafalaya River stage dropped below 10 feet at Butte La Rose a few weeks and so many volumes of fresh, muddy water quit pouring into the east side of Vermilion Bay. Even better news is shrimp are making their way into the bay, he said, evidenced by the presence of several shrimp boats pulling trawls there Saturday.
They fished mostly to the west of Marsh Island, Tee Butte.
“It wasn’t on fire but it was good enough to stay,” he said.
Some Inside Division competitors had a fair to good weekend of fishing. Others, not so much.
Zach and Morgan Privat of Youngsville fished with their 4-year-old son, Benjamin, and his paternal grandfather, Tom Privat in the latter’s 22-foot Grady White. Benjamin calls it a “Gravy White,” his mom said.
“Too bad they didn’t have a hardhead division. We need a hardhead division next year,” Zach said with a laugh Saturday afternoon.
Young Benjamin had the “first tournament fish of the day, a speckled trout,” according to the boy’s grandfather.
“On his Mickey Mouse pole (Zabc spincast combination rod-and-reel,” his father said.
“We must have caught 15 speckled trout today,” he said.
Thad Desormeaux, a local angler, and his fishing buddy, Eddie Decoux, also waded through what seemed like a ton of hardheads while fishing in Desormeaux’s “Kelly’s Knight-mere, a 22-foot HydraSport. Mere is Cajun French for grandmother and, he explained, and his wife ia blessed with many.
“I just thought of that name a few days ago,” he said after arriving at fishing rodeo headquarters Saturday.
About those hardheads …
“This day started off bad. (After a while) I was thinking, ‘Is this a catfish rodeo?’ We must have caught 40,” Desormeaux said.
Charlie Oubre of New Iberia, a charter boat captain who had two trips lined up after the fishing rodeo, and his crew had two successful outings Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s not bad. We caught fish all day long. We had a good day,” Oubre said Saturday before he and the crew stuck fish on the Inside Division leaderboard.
Jeff Reaux and Carl Tauzin fished with him on Liquid Therapy, a 22-foot Blazer Bay. Reaux finished with a first-place redfish at 28.1 pounds and a third-place croaker at .60 pounds and caught both fish Saturday. Oubre had a third-place redfish at 26.3 pounds that he caught Sunday.
On Saturday, the skipper said, they fished “all over” from Vermilion Bay to the reefs below Marsh Island to all the way around and inside Marsh Island.
“Where we didn’t go was Boxcar Reef,” Oubre said that first day.
He rectified that situation Sunday.
“We had a good day. We caught bait for two hours and just sat over there (Boxcar Reef),” he said Sunday.