An armada of kayaks gathered at Louisiana’s Grand Isle on Saturday for the Ride the Bull IV Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament to break the current world record for the largest kayak fishing tournament on the globe. According to the St. Charles Herald-Guide, the tournament drew in 523 registered participants and 488 kayaks on the water. The numbers blew away the record held by the JAX Classic held in Jacksonville, Florida, which brought in 435 registered entrants and 407 kayaks in 2012.
Kayak fishermen came from several other states and as far away as Hawaii, a state known for the dedication of its kayakers. The redfish tournament was almost called off due to stormy weather, but just after daylight on Saturday the weather subsided.
“We don’t gamble on safety,” tournament founder Capt. Danny Wray said. “Kayaks can’t outrun the storms and they certainly can’t outrun lightning.”
Although it continued to rain for most of the day, the kayakers were undaunted in their quest for redfish. The event is unique in that it conducts live-weighs of bull redfish caught for the tournament, which is done by assist boats spread among the throng of kayaks. When the anglers catch a fish, it is handed off to an assist boat, where the crew tags the fish with the appropriate information and it is sent off to be measured. After the weigh, volunteers carefully release the fish back into the waters, ensuring that the large amount of kayakers make as little impact as possible on the local redfish population.
Also unique for the tournament is the joviality of its crowd. Many anglers signed up to compete but just as much showed up merely for the fun and camaraderie. Participants wearing exotic costumes and decorated kayaks rubbed shoulders as they fished close enough for conversation. In the end, Jeff Gleason topped the leader board with a 32.96-pound redfish. Among Gleason’s winnings were a Hobie Pro Angler 12 and $2,200 in cash.