By Cayden Stump, staff writer
Tournament fishing in Grand Isle draws people from all over the country. The island is even home to what one resident refers to as “the Superbowl of sport fishing” – the Louisiana Gulf Coast Billfish Classic.
In Louisiana, fishing tournaments are often called rodeos. These range from small family-oriented events to large tournaments covered by national networks. No matter the size of the event, increasing tourism and giving back to the community are some of Grand Isle’s goals when hosting fishing tournaments.
One major event that takes place every April is the Louisiana Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, which focuses on offshore fishing, whereas smaller events are typically fished in inshore waterways. This event is the first of 12 that take place along the Gulf and East coasts of the United States.
“This is covered by CBS Sports Network, where they will actually be broadcasting it on TV,” says Lan Tivet, spokesperson for the Hurricane Hole, a popular marina and tourist destination in Grand Isle. “It’s gonna be known as the Superbowl of sports fishing. If you enter any of those 12 tournaments and you enter the sports championship, you can essentially win $1,000,000 worth of cryptocurrency.”
According to Tivet, The Louisiana Gulf Coast Billfish Classic is referred to as the “Superbowl of Fishing” because there are two sides: the Gulf coast and the East Coast. They compete, and whoever has the most points at the end wins.
The Billfish Classic is not the only tournament on Grand Isle.
Dr. Lee Grafton of Thibodaux is an avid fisherman who regularly participates in rodeos. One of Grafton’s favorite rodeos to fish was started by a friend whose three-year-old son drowned in a swimming pool.
“He always wore blue boots,” Grafton says. “So they started this Blue Boot Rodeo, and it’s all about safety and life jackets and saving lives and preventing drowning.”
— Dr. Lee Grafton
“They do the rodeo and then they donate all the money towards throwable rings on the beach, and every kid gets a life jacket that signs up, so it’s really a neat rodeo that has gained a lot of popularity.”
Family-oriented events like Blue Boot are meant to be informal and fun, and their aim is to help the community raise awareness and gain funds through charitable acts.
Tournament fishing is not the only fishing that happens on Grand Isle.
The island is also known for some great recreational fishing, says Ryan Perque, a resident of Thibodaux who owns a camp in Grand Isle. Perque says he goes to Grand Isle as often as he can.
“Grand Isle is a special place for me and my family and my friends because there’s so many options there,” he says.
From fishing to lying on the beach and having a few cold ones with friends and family, Perque says, “It is a special place to be and makes you want to keep on going back.”