CYPREMORT POINT – The reason for the season, er, for the fishing rodeo, became clear midway through the three-day 61st annual Kay-Cee Saltwater Fishing Rodeo as well as a few minutes before the scales closed on the holiday weekend event’s second day Sunday.
A 21 ½-foot Blazer Bay hurried in to get to fishing rodeo headquarters here along Quintana Canal just before the 6 p.m. weigh-in time. Brad Romero of New Iberia and his wife, Nicole Romero, made it in time to weigh two fish they had caught while fishing with a youngster on board the Blazer Bay.
The Romeros took out 3-year-old Joleigh Ragusa, who they call their “adopted” granddaughter, for an afternoon trip. They went once again to compete in the fishing rodeo despite a forgettable day on Saturday.
“We fished all day yesterday (Saturday) and didn’t put a fish in the boat,” Brad Romero said.
Joleigh’s mother, Amanda Ragusa, recently moved from Acadiana to LaPlace, which — as luck, all bad, would have it — was destroyed by Hurricane Ida on Aug. 29. Joleigh is staying with the Romeros while her family repairs their home in LaPlace.
Nicole Romero said she taught the young girl at a daycare center in Broussard before moving to New Iberia.
“We’re like adopted grandparents with her,” she said.
Joleigh wanted to go on the boat Sunday. The Romeros obliged. Apparently, the trip put a little bit of normal into a very abnormal time for the little girl, who never complained and wore her mermaid-themed life jacket every minute she was on the boat.
“She had a blast. She said, ‘You’re going to catch a fish!’ Yes! I did catch a big redfish. It’s been about two years since I actually caught a keeper redfish,” Nicole Romero said.
Unfortunately, Romero’s redfish didn’t make the leaderboard in the Inside Division. But Brad Romero’s 0.65-pound speckled trout did, and that was one of their many reasons to be happy.
As sketchy as conditions are this holiday weekend, that’s why the church organization decided to have the fishing rodeo as scheduled for the Labor Day Weekend.
“We’re just glad we had some participation. Everything worked against us,” James Boudreaux, Knights of Columbus Council 3425 Deputy Grand Knight, said late Sunday afternoon about the near-miss in this area from the hurricane that wiped out much of an entire region southeast of here, a subsequent gas shortage and the report about a number of usual local fishing rodeo participants traveling this weekend to Galliano to help repair catastrophic damage and cook for the victims of Hurricane Ida.
The fishing rodeo went on as scheduled. Brian Boutte, second-year fishing rodeo chairman, announced Tuesday morning that it was a go and nearly three dozen fishermen brought fishing rodeo tickets for the fundraising tournament labeled as the biggest fundraiser for Knights of Columbus Council 3425. It was obvious, however, that post-hurricane issues kept many participants away.
“At least we were able to have it. We were committed to putting it on. We followed through with it,” Boutte said.
Boudreaux chimed in and said, “Can you imagine if we had to cancel again?”
Last year’s fishing rodeo was stricken from the schedule due to coronavirus pandemic concerns and restrictions. Kay-Cee fishing rodeo officials waited until after the hurricane’s passage to give a thumbs up for this year’s event.
The Fish Karma crew of family members is making the most of this 61st running of the Kay-Cee Saltwater Fishing Rodeo. Hayden Amy, 12, a seventh-grade student/athlete at Catholic High School, fished the first two days with his father, Brooks Amy, and grandfather, Perry Scott, both of New Iberia. They fished the second day aboard Scott’s 24-foot long Blue Wave.
Young Amy is the angler to beat for Best All-Around Fisherman in the Kids Division. Going into the third and final day today, he has 188 points. His nearest challenger is another Catholic High School student, Micah Hebert, who fished his first day Sunday and put five fish on the Kids Division Leaderboard. Hebert has 152 points.
After Fish Karma put their second-day’s catch on the board, including a third-place croaker caught by Hayden, Scott asked Hayden, who had just looked at the leaderboard, “How are you doing?”
“I’m doing all right. I think so,” the youngster said.
Going into the third and last day, Amy has a second-place redfish at 10.5 pounds, a third-place drum at 4.42 pounds, and a third-place croaker at .38.
Hebert, who fished with his father, Trent Hebert, and his sister, Cameron Hebert, stuck five fish on the board Saturday. He had a first-place speckled trout (1.38 pounds), first- and second-place drum (22.2 and 18.3 pounds, respectively) and first- and second-place croaker (0.61 and 0.49 pounds, respectively) while fishing aboard Getting Closer.
The scales reopen at 9 a.m. today and close at noon. The awards will be presented at 1 p.m.