Families spend Mardi Gras Day competing in BREC’s Geaux Fish Catfish Rodeo

A few years ago, officials with BREC’s Conservation department had the idea of parents and kids trading beads for fishing poles and competing in a catfish rodeo.

After days and days of parades, carnival season can become stressful for mom and dad.

So, a few years ago BREC officials came up with a relaxing way for families to spend Mardi Gras together.

“This is a great way of spending Mardi Gras. And it’s still very Louisiana. And everyone is happy and friendly to be here, so it’s a good time,” Kendrick Slan, a parent from Zachary told WAFB.

BREC's Geaux Fish Catfish Rodeo
Over A Hundred People spent Mardi Gras Day 2019 at BREC’s Geaux Fish Catfish Rodeo in Zachary, LA.

A few years ago, officials with BREC’s Conservation department had the idea of parents and kids trading beads for fishing poles and competing in a catfish rodeo.

“We like to do it on Mardi Gras because I think there’s a lot of families out there that enjoy outdoor recreation and they want to have something to do other than going to a parade. And so, this is a really great way to spend time outdoors with your family and do something really fun. And it’s a really good introduction for kids or for people who are just trying it out for the first time,” explained Amanda Takacs, a Naturalist who works for BREC.

Kendrick Slan says his family had the full Mardi Gras experience and but was ready to give their rods and reels on Fat Tuesday.

“Well, we did catch a few parades, we went to Slidell and my family is from Maroquin. So we’re good at the small town parades. We don’t really do the big day of Mardi Gras kind of thing. And so when we heard BREC was putting on a fishing thing for the kids, we had to bring him out here because my boy loves fishing,” Slan said.

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Many kids we talked to had the same opinion as parents.

“Sometimes the parades aren’t that much fun. Sometimes you don’t get that many beads or that much stuff because there’s all of the other people that are trying to get stuff,” explained Wynn Turner, a fifth-grader at St. James school in Baton Rouge. “I’d rather be fishing, just because its more enjoyable to me and peaceful,” said Alan Lam, an eighth-grader Runnels school in Baton Rouge.

One little girl even gave up marching in a Mardi Gras parade to fish in today’s rodeo.

“I was going to be in the parade, and I was going to dance in it. But instead I wanted to pick this because I haven’t been fishing in 5 years and I’d rather be here,” said Kendall, a girl who attended the event with her cousin, Riley, and her grandfather.

BREC's Geaux Fish Catfish Rodeo
Over A Hundred People spent Mardi Gras Day 2019 at BREC’s Geaux Fish Catfish Rodeo in Zachary, LA.

The weather was a factor. BREC officials pushed back the start time because of this morning’s freezing temperatures.

Yet it didn’t bring down anyone’s spirit.

“Our noses Are Not Happy, uh nose is running a little bit. But we’re excited and we’re hoping to catch something. But we don’t regret it all,” Slan said.

The kids pointed out they would be cold either way. “The parades would be cold and it’s cold here too but we can have all of our stuff around us to not be cold,” said Riley.

But despite a little cold, one father is happy his family made the right decision. “Parades these days, they’re not the parades of 20 years ago. It could be dangerous. You might see horses, gunshots. The most dangerous thing you get out here is a fishhook in the fingernail,” Slan said.

But most importantly, all the children we talked to said they had a lot of fun fishing on Mardi Gras Day.

BREC officials say over 80 participants caught 25 fish, with the biggest being over 19 inches in length.

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