A group of men with large knives waited.
Under different circumstances, this could be cause for alarm, but instead, it was the hard working fish filleting crew at the 30th Annual Hercules Festival on the Bayou and Fishing Rodeo taking a well-deserved break.
“Gafftop catfish and bull reds … that’s what we’ve been doing here,” Michael Verdin said. “We started here (seven hours earlier) and we just stopped.”
Verdin and his friends’ break ended a few minutes later, when Brian Falgout came in, the last fisherman to enter fish on Saturday.
Falgout brought in eight gafftop catfish.
“The gafs were hitting (Saturday). I don’t know why,” said Falgout, who fished several areas around Bayou Dularge. “Almost every cast, you’d get a fish of your hook.”
None of them placed, but they will be fried up.
“We’ve done great this year. We’ve sold at least a thousand tickets,” said Nelson Kramer Jr, Chairman of the ticket committee for the rodeo. “We have a lot of fisherman bringing in a lot of fish. It’s been a little rough here and there (Saturday), but we have a lot to fry up (Sunday).”
Aside from the gafftop cats, redfish were the big story. Ryan Broussard holds first place in bull reds, with a 36 pound entry. Elrin Fanguy III hooked a 35.2 pound five-fish stringer.
“We’re seeing a really unbelievable amount of fish, considering the last few weeks,” rodeo weighmaster Dan Davis said. “We’re seeing really big redfish all across the board. It’s a new moon (Saturday), so that gives us a great tidal range, and that leads to a lot of good things. We have some people coming in (today) with some big bass and some big sac-a-lait. We’re going to see some real big fish.”
Speckled trout were sparse, with the first stringer entry coming less than an hour before scales closed at 6 p.m. Saturday. Bradley Scott caught the fish off of Dulac.
“We were using live shrimp,” Scott said. “We had a lot day with a lot of rain, but we were doing our best to catch them.”
Davis said the water conditions accounted for the fish brought in.
“We’ve had a lot of squalls lately, and that churns up the water,” Davis said. “That makes it murky. A redfish is a bottom feeder, so they don’t care about the visibility. They’re just scraping the bottom. A speck is a visual feeder. It wants to see what it’s eating. So if you have murky water, you’re not going to find specks.”
The rodeo concludes today with the scales open from 10 a.m. to noon.