As the year 2013 rolls around the vast majority of Louisiana’s fishermen are prepping their trolling motors, outboards, and center console bay boats for the upcoming fishing season. The daily routine of watching the weather forecast begin to start, and the wives of many fishermen prepare for the long weekends when their spouses are missing from home. Kayak fishermen however are preparing for something much larger, some may say they are prepping for the Super Bowl of kayak fishing. Each year the small fishing village of Leesville, Louisiana is bombarded with kayakers who have come near and far to fish in Louisiana’s largest kayak fishing tournament, Paddlepalooza. The Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club puts on Paddlepalooza, during the end of March each year. Recently the tournament reached its ten-year anniversary, with over 270-kayak fisherman who entered the tournament.
Kayaker’s compete in multiple categories including: heaviest Cajun Slam, a three fish stringer consisting of a redfish, speckled trout and flounder, heaviest “slot” red or redfish under 27 inches, heaviest speckled trout, heaviest founder, and redfish with the most spots. Each angler has the option of fishing with or without live bait and can use any artificial lures of their choice.
Bobby Lynn’s Marina, in Leesville hosts the tournament each year. Tournament anglers gather at Bobby Lynn’s the night before the tournament for a little camaraderie, good food and the long awaited captains meeting at the end of the night. On tournament day, kayak fishermen hit the marshes of South Lafourche Parish with high hopes of catching fish that will qualify for the tournament specifications. Kayakers have the choice of fishing anywhere they would like in the set boundary lines for the tournament. The weigh in for the tournament is usually held on Saturday afternoon.
While some anglers are in the weigh-in line 30 minutes before the weigh-in starts, quite often other fishermen arrive with only minutes left before the weigh-in closes. Once each angler weighs in his fish, the fish are cleaned and prepped for the fish fry that follows the weigh in. Throughout the evening following the weigh in, anglers gather around for some good food and the long awaited results from the tournament. The winners of the tournament are announced after the fish fry and prizes are given out for the winners. Tournament anglers have a chance of winning anything from prize money to a brand new kayak. For some anglers a long day on the water is rewarded, while others go home empty handed. From the captains meeting to the weigh-in, the entire spectacle of the event is what makes it so special. Whether an angler goes home with a brand new Hobie kayak or the sunburns they get from a long day of fishing, Paddlepalooza will continue to be one of the most popular kayak tournaments in the southeast region of the United States.
For more information on Paddlepalooza or the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club please visit : www.bckfc.org
By: Tyler Hall, contributing writer