Outdoor Corner: Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo

Lyle Johnson

After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, the Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo is back on track in Port Fourchon. Rodeo organizers announced that the 2021 event will be July 1-3 behind Moran's Marina.

Doc Kennedy with his state and world record red snapper that weighed 50-4.

Rodeo President Eddie Callais said he and his team are ready to host the event, and he assures everyone that the event will be hosted responsibly and safely. “We are excited to move forward with the 72nd annual Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo while ensuring that it is done in accordance with all safety guidelines," Callais said.

"Both local residents and participants throughout the Gulf Coast are ready for this event as the pandemic restrictions have been eased over the past couple of months."

The Admiral for this year's event is Mike Melancon. Melancon is a resident of Cut Off, the son of the late "Johnny" Melancon Sr., and Audrey Melancon. He is married to Annie Melancon and is the father of Vanessa, Lauren, Michelle, Johnette and Cameron, and the grandfather of seven grandchildren.

Melancon is an avid outdoorsman – a man born and raised in Lafourche. The rodeo is deeply entrenched in the Melancon family's history. His father was the rodeo's 51st admiral in 1997, and his brother, John Jr., served as admiral in 2012.

Chase and Chet Lavigne along with  Bret Broussard caught these 25 catfish, five bream, and one sac a lait on nightcrawlers under a cork fishing about three feet deep close to the cypress trees fishing in Lake Verret on May 1.

The purpose of the Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo is to reward deserving students. The organization presented a total of $34,000 in scholarships at South Lafourche High School’s Senior Scholarship Social for the 2019 school year. No scholarships were awarded in 2020 as the rodeo was postponed. They’re back with a passion in 2021.

Tickets are $35 and each ticket earns you entry into the fishing tournament, a free ditty bag, a shrimp dinner and chances to win door prizes. Fishing begins on Thursday morning at safe daylight.

The scales open at 1 p.m. along with the food booths. There will be live music and a King of the Catch cooking contest along with many other festivities that end at 11 p.m.

It starts all over on Saturday with everything opening at 1 p.m. again and the award ceremony beginning at 7 p.m. All the info you need can be found at www.fourchonrodeo.com.

The winds will have calmed down that we’ve been experiencing for what seems like an eternity and the offshore action will be as hot as the weather. Hopefully the “rip” will be close in and plenty of billfish and tuna action will be available.

The offshore rigs will be holding their normal stashes of snapper, lemon fish and amberjack. Everything is lining up for some hot weather and action for the Fourth of July weekend.

I’ve had the privilege of fishing this rodeo many times in past years and it’s always been enjoyable. All of the salt water rodeos are held to benefit a cause and this one’s no different. Its purpose is to raise funds for South Lafourche High School.

GMFTR will be the first of the major inshore and offshore rodeos this summer and hopes to be a shot in the arm to help the area “come back” from the effects of the you know what we won’t talk about.

“Doc” Kennedy, one of the founding charter captains in the Grand Isle area was our host for many years as we fished the Golden Meadow rodeo trying to catch a billfish. Blue marlin was our main target, but a white or sail would have fit the bill as well. Blue water trolling was in its infancy back about 35 to 45 years ago and a bill fish of any kind would have been a catch of a lifetime.

Our crew consisted of me and Goosie along with any other four fish maniacs we could round up that was willing to spend the five or six hundred dollars each and get a yard pass to charter the Wahoo for 3 to 5 days.

We were known as a gang of “fishing fools” by most of the charter captains on the island. Tim Sebastian was running the Sea Hawk, which he inherited from his dad, Charlie. He was another of the pioneer salts of the sea that built the charter business on our coast.

The Boga-Lee was another boat that set sail out of Martin’s Marina on the east end of Grand Isle. And Mickey Ridenour captained the “Kelty O;” he was the young whippersnapper of the bunch. We fished with them all and hauled many a garbage can full of the delicacies that inhabited the Gulf of Mexico.

But back to the business at hand. Like I said we were the most dedicated and hardworking bunch of fishermen to ever hit the island. We fished from the time the lines went out until Doc would yell, “Reel em’ in!” We kept our baits clean all day and never gave up.

Although we won our share of trophies in the Golden Meadow and Mississippi Deep Sea rodeos as they were held around the Fourth of July holiday, we never got our billfish. We had plenty of them in our spread of six baits, many hits and a fair share of hook-ups, but we never got one to the gaff.

When trolling blue water sometimes the action is not fast or furious. It can be a long time between bites. One time in my memory we trolled for two and a half days without a bite. Then in the last two hours we landed six fish that won a couple of trophies in the rodeo for black fin tuna and dolphin.

Doc Kennedy has gone to the big fishing grounds in the sky and his boat, the Wahoo, has long ago been out of commission. His state and World Record red snapper that weighed 50-4 is still on the books. Charlie Sebastian has long ago passed away, Martin’s Marina has changed names several times and is now the Sand Dollar.

I’m sure the Boga-Lee is in the boat graveyard by now, and who knows where Tim and Mickey are. But one thing’s for sure, I’ll never lose my memories of those great times in my life. The Golden Meadow Tarpon Rodeo and Grand Isle will always have a special place in my heart. So until next time, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you!