View Full Version : Fishing Report: Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo 2004

Team Jefe
09-21-2004, 12:27 PM
As with most things this year for Team Jefe, our annual trip to Grand Isle Louisiana for the International Tarpon Rodeo was wrought with drama. As a refresher the GIITR is Louisiana’s oldest fishing tournament. This year marks Team Jefe’s fourth straight appearance, and our toughest one to date.

I started out for the tournament at 0500 GMT Daylight, Wednesday July 21st (that’s Zulu +1 hour or 1100PM Tuesday for those of us on Central Daylight Time) from Harpenden, The United Kingdom. The oddest thing the 21st was that it is my Birthday. I hardly had time to contemplate that I was now on the back side of 30…wow. I had just spent over a week in Leeds, Yorkshire on business and had traveled down to Harpenden on Tuesday night to visit with my cousin Dana and her family. Dana, her son Nick, and daughter Georgia were also to catch a flight the next morning from Gatwick to visit her mother in Little Rock. I decided to stay up all night in the hopes that I could sleep on the plane ride back to Houston. So, by 0500 when everyone else started getting ready, I was pretty hammered.

We made the hour long trip to Gatwick, said our goodbyes, and I headed for my plane. All this was uneventful. We loaded up and took off for Houston. This is where my plan went awry. I had an isle seat and settled in for a good sleep on the 9 hour flight. However, the Flight attendants had other ideas. They simply would not leave me alone. I guess the headphones and sleeping mask were not clear enough clues. Every 30-45 minutes they would come by with a cart and hit me. They couldn’t even walk down the isle by themselves with out hitting me, and they pestered me for food, drinks, etc. I finally asked to be left alone and the pestering did stop, but I think the bumping increased. So much for the wonderful service on Continental Airlines, and so much for me getting any sleep.

We landed in Houston at 1340 CDT Wednesday, where things just got worse. The usually short immigration line (for Americans anyway) was almost as long as the Foreign Nationals line. I had to wait about an hour to get through. Then, as usual, my bags were still not delivered to the claims area, and I waited another 20 minutes for those. You know, a more pessimistic person might thing the Good Lord did not want him to go fishing…but not me, its my Birthday, surely God wouldn’t jack with me on my Birthday…right? I was, however, giving a lot of thought to all I had to do to get Jefe’s Revenge ready to head to Grand Isle. Yes, boys and girls, I was headed over right away because we had a trip booked for Thursday Morning. Finally I got my bags, got outside, and contacted my mom who was picking me up. She was five minutes away. As I stood their in the refreshing Texas Heat, I got a call from Dan Franz. I answered expecting to discuss timetables and when I thought we would get to Grand Isle so he could get things prepared. This is when I got the best B-day present I could get. Danny, came to my rescue once again and informed me that he had secured us a ride on the Good Vibrations for the entire Rodeo…Jefe’s Revenge was not needed. All I had to do was grab my fishing clothes and boogie to Grand Isle. I could have kissed him right then. Good Vibrations is a 50 foot Viking Sport boat owned by Ray & Mary Baudoin. I almost wept with joy. No having to captain the boat, no pounding the waves, no fighting the heat of the day, no salt spray all over me, no nothing except enjoy the ride in air conditioned comfort and drag in the big fish. Now don’t get me wrong, I love running my own boat, even prefer it most of the time, but this year has been a real “Charles Foxtrot” and I was glad to be able to relax a little after the Leeds trip…….And I would be a fool to pass up a chance at fishing on such a super fine vessel.

So, I get home, collect AJ (Amanda) and head over to Grand Isle. Even without the boat we didn’t get there until 0130 CDT Thursday morning.

Whew, that was a 26 ½ hour trip….yeah, I really am sick with this fishing thing.

Stay Tuned for More of this hair raising adventure
Same Jefe Time
Same Jefe Channel

Tight Lines;

Team Jefe
09-21-2004, 12:34 PM
...we last left our heros as they arrived at Grand Isle....

We crashed out on the boat and woke up a few hours later as Ray was making coffee. Luckily for us Mary came along soon and “rescued” the coffee from Ray’s evil clutches. That freed Ray up to help his Captain (who is also his son)Bo in casting off lines to head out. Joining the Baudoin’s on this trip were Bo’s fiancée Lacey, Cliff Anderson, Danny of course, AJ and me. This was going to be a day trip for Yellowfin, Wahoo and the like. We headed out to a clear South Louisiana morning, sitting in the bridge of a first class vessel, the salt air in our lungs, and the issues with my project at work fading fast from my memory.

I can not fully express how awesome Good Vibrations is, with three staterooms, two heads and a huge salon, this boat is nicer than most people’s houses. If heaven is truly a little different for everyone, then this would do very nicely for me. We set our course due south and headed “out ‘da pass” for a 2-3 hour run to the fishing grounds (almost as fast as I could make it in the Revenge). Once we got underway, AJ and I decided to get in a little more sleep and crashed in one of the staterooms, I slept like a baby riding the gentle swells of the GoM. About 30 minutes from our destination, the boat comes to quick and unexpected halt. Captain Bo noticed a large section of rope holding just under the water as we went over it. He powered down quickly but not fast enough to keep the rope entirely out of the props. Well, this puts a little kink in our festivities, but Ray and Cliff make like Navy Seals and dive over the side with knives and saws. They worked for about 30 minutes to get the rope free. What a great job they did, cause we would have been stuck for while if they had failed. While all the frogman work was going on, Bo went below to check out the engines to see if there was any damage and noticed a fine spray of diesel shooting out from the Port engine…..not…..good. Had we continued on like that the Halon system would have activated to prevent an explosion, but we would have been dead in the water with no hope of getting restarted. Maybe God does like me after all, and placed a small inconvenience in our way so we would notice the bigger problem. However, it was a problem easily fixed with some sealant compound and we did get some trolling in, but had little luck with the fishing. So, Ray decided that we would make it an early day and get back to make sure the boat was 100% for the overnight trip planned for Friday and Saturday. We got back to the dock, and enjoyed the evening with good friends, laughing and having a good time. I really needed that.

On Friday we left port around 1000 and were heading about 100 miles out to GC 205. Those of you in “The Patch” might recognize that lease as being Chevron Genesis, one of the largest Spars in the world, and one of the few deepwater offshore platforms I have actually been on. Our crew for this trip was mostly the same except that Cliff had other duties that required his attention so Bo’s good friend Travis Bourgeois joined us.

We fished our way out to Genesis and caught many little tunny’s on the way which we cut up for chum and bait. As we were catching the little tunny’s my lovely girlfriend decided that these fish were not worthy of her attention and enthusiasm. She posed the question to me “When are we going to catch some real fish?” Now mind you LT’s are not my choice of fish, but these things are about 8-10 lbs apiece and fight like their larger cousins. Still, I urged her to be patient and it wasn’t very long until we had hooked up a nice Bull Dolphin (as a reminder this is a dolphin fish, NOT Flipper). Mary jumped in the Fighting chair, and it was on. Miss Mary is a beautiful, sweet, kind hearted lady….but she’s also Cajun and that Bull didn’t have a chance. He put up a good fight, but Miss Mary brought him to the boat like a champ, where Ray and I teamed up to Leader and Gaff him aboard.

Remember that cute little girl who “wanted real fish”, well as we brought this 50+ lb, still pissed off, Bull aboard, over my shoulder I hear “Oh, Hell No” and notice Miss AJ retreating to the safety of the salon. I guess she’s not ready to be fitted for her Poggie Boots just yet.

We fished Genesis for several more hours looking for billfish, Blue Marlin specifically, but alas were unable to bring any up to the baits. So, we changed tactics and moved to a platform a few miles away to set up for the evening Yellowfin Run. The Platform had a Semi-Submersible drilling rig about 500 yards from it, and it was running its gas flare when we got there. We could actually see the Tuna in the water and jumping all over the place so we wasted no time in get the lines in the water. We were quickly rewarded with the sweet sound of Line stripping off a Penn 50. Lacey jumped in the fighting chair and the fight was on. Lacey too is a very beautiful, sweet lady, but I’m not sure she is as mad at the fish as Miss Mary. So, there was the need for a little…..encouragement from Travis, Ray and me. And motivate her we did, I think cause she got mad at us for all the screaming of “Reel B!tch, Reel” and other similar comments. Nevertheless, she brought a nice 60+ lb yellowfin to the boat. Now here is where my legend grows, Ray had the leader and was bringing the fish around for me to gaff, when he stood up with the free leader in his hand, the fish was not hooked. At that exact moment I gaffed him and brought him into the boat….Hey, no big deal, just means we don’t have to get the hook out now.

We reset the boat and got the lines out again. This is when AJ decides she wants back in the game, so I take a TLD-25 with some chunk bait and run it our for her as a free line. I handed her the rod and told her to just keep feeding out line until she feels a strike. I reminded her that the Yellowfin hit like a ton-o-bricks and that she had to hold the rod and lightly thumb the reel so it wouldn’t backlash. During all this excellent instruction, the line starts leaving the reel quicker than expected. AJ is wondering what is happening, so I told her to hold on and I slammed the lever drag to the Strike setting. Bam, the rod bent over and line started screaming off the reel. “FISH ON” now for the fun part. Since we had this hook up on the much lighter TLD-25, we had a definite fight on our hands. Danny and Travis reeled up the other lines and I helped AJ with her rod. I would help her lift the rod and she would reel on the down stroke. This went on for about 20 minutes with the fish giving as much as he was getting. Eventually Amanda got tired and I had to employee my special technique of straddling her from behind to assist with the rod and reeling. This is a technique I only use with the ladies, as the sight of me straddling another man..is..just..wrong. We finally got this big boy to the boat, but he was not through having fun and took off on a big run. At this point we told AJ that there would be at least a couple more of those runs before we got him aboard. She decided she had had enough and reluctantly passed me the rod to finish off the fight.

This fight went on another 30 minutes as I gained line at the same rate as he took it. Then Danny came to the rescue and risked a break-off by increasing the drag setting. This allowed me to gain line faster and, luckily, the line did not break. Leader, Gaff, and whammo, another 60+ pounder was in the fish box. So, Team JEFE, Teamed up to get a nice fish onboard. However, AJ was a causality of the fight. She was not feeling well and the fatigue on top of that put her over the edge where she needed to get some rest. No worries, she had caught her first blue water fish and deserved a rest.

Since this fight took so long, it was full on dark by the time we reset the boat and the feeding frenzy had died down. Over the next several hours we caught several 15-20 lb Blackfin tuna, a few little tunny’s and bonitos, but the yellowfin action had just stopped. Also during this time Miss May set out a supper spread that was fit for a king. All kinds of great foods including some of Danny’s World Famous Jambalaya…..oooeee cher, dat stuff’ll make you hurt yoself.

After supper and a long lull in the action, Travis and I decided to bring out the Squid. We had been given these squid by another captain at the marina and they were already rigged for Muy Grande Fishes. At Bo’s direction, we added a glowstick to the leader and sent these things deep. After a half hour we were rewarded with that sweet sound of stripping line as our port side Penn 50 started screaming. Travis jumped on the rod and the fight was on. At first we thought it was a big Amberjack since we were that deep, and he fought like an AJ. Travis would gain line and the fish would make these monster runs and take it all back. This went on for a good 30 minutes when we finally saw the glowstick about 30 feet down. Travis made a Herculean effort and brought up what we now saw was a VERY nice yellowfin, but this guy wasn’t done yet. He had one more big run in him, but Travis was a man posed, this fish was not going to beat him. After another several minutes Travis brought him back to the boat and I gaffed him onboard. What a monster, the biggest of all we had. I was tired just watching the action.

At this point it is about 0200 and we are all hammered from the long day, so Bo (who had not left the helm all day) moved the boat away from the rigs and we all tried to get some sleep (all except Bo who stayed at the helm).

Don't miss the final episode of this riveting Trilogy

Tight Lines

Team Jefe
09-21-2004, 12:35 PM
Now for the final episode.....

After a few hours Travis and I were back up and getting ready for the morning run. Dan had been up an hour or so sitting with Bo. Ray and Mary joined us soon after along with Lacey, but Miss AJ was still under the weather and stayed in the rack.

The action this morning was not a spectacular as the evening before, but there were yellowfin jumping and chasing bait around the platform. We set the boat, ran our lines out, and in no time flat we had a hook up. Miss Mary was back in the fighting chair and playing the rod & reel like she was born with it in her hands. After a good 40 minute fight she brought another nice yellowfin to the boat and we gaffed him aboard.

Then it just stopped, by 0700 it was like a ghost town. I have no idea why, it was like somebody just turned off the switch. So, we enjoyed a nice relaxed breakfast, spooled up the lines, pointed Good Vibrations north and headed for home. Ray took the helm so Bo could get some much deserved sleep. I tried to stay awake with Ray, but lost the fight after about an hour and joined Bo…figuratively speaking, perverts…..and got some more shut-eye. Amanda was feeling better and enjoyed the ride back with the sea breeze in her face. Everyone else just lounged around and enjoyed to wonderful comfort of the Good Vibrations.

We got back to Grand Isle just before noon and offloaded the fish to be weighed and cleaned. The Dolphin was 52 lbs, and All the Yellowfin were over 60 lbs. each, with Travis having the big boy at 62 ¾ lbs. Well that was good enough to with the Tuna Calcutta, $1,000.00. Not bad for 24 hours of work, and it covered the majority of the trip costs. As the fish were being cleaned, we got Good Vibrations cleaned and squared away, and settled in to enjoy the lazy afternoon in Grand Isle. Miss Caroline was able to join us and we had a wonderful time visiting with her and reliving the past days’ adventures. We then learn that Good Vibrations had won the weekly IGYFFD Calcutta for the largest fish caught of the member boats. Ray was ecstatic; this was a very big deal, because of the prestige, associated with the win. He was rewarded with a trophy (a painted boat paddle) and $5.00 whole dollars. That’s right, $5.00. IGYFFD stands for I Got Your Fu**ing Five Dollars and the “trophy” is passed to each week’s winner like Lord Stanley’s Cup. Hey it ain’t all about the Money ! !

That evening we headed over to the Tournament tent and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo. We even got to see the Grand price winning fish, a 723 lb Blue Marlin. Oh yeah, this dude was a real monster. The boat next to us in the marina caught him. 4 ½ hours on the line, one fisherman, and he was dead when they got him to the boat. That is a fish of a lifetime, and it was the first fish ever caught on this boat. A brand new 56 foot Viking, fresh out the box. Unfortunately, it all goes downhill from there, but there are still many Marlin, Yellowfin and Wahoo to be caught.

Sunday was a lazy morning, enjoying the salt air. We finally packed our things and stopped for lunch with everyone on our way back to Morgan City. I had a meeting in Berwick the next day, so AJ and I took it easy and rested all day.

WOW, what an overwhelming experience. Great hosts, Great friends, Great fisher..people, and a top shelf vessel. I simply could not have asked for more. Thank you does not even come close to expressing my gratitude to everyone. Miss Amanda, thanks for tagging along on my crazy adventures. Even when I’m worn out, that smile of yours brightens my day. Danny, as usual you were there to take care of me, friends like you are a very rare thing and I am thankful everyday for you being in my life. Bo, top shelf helmsmanship, you make handling a 50 footer look like a walk in the park. Things just happened as they should, outstanding work, thank you. Miss Lacey, your spirit and fire kept things interesting and fun, and I liked that White Bikini too. Travis, it is clear to me why you are steady crew on Good Vibrations, Excellent angler and always a step ahead. Cliff, all I can say is the Navy Seals have got nothing on you. Ray & Mary, you kindness, generosity and hospitality are unequaled. You give like there is no tomorrow, and enjoy life to the fullest. I was happy to be in your company and I hope I was a worthy crewman on Good Vibrations. I look forward to our next adventure together.

Tight Lines;

Team Hula Girl
09-21-2004, 10:51 PM
Great fish tales......Look forward to seeing some pictures. As much as I like running my boat to the fishing grounds I believe a Viking 50 would make it so much more enjoyable.

J Mitch

Fish boy
09-23-2004, 09:06 AM
HEy Jefe,
What a fantastic story, almost felt like I was there.


10-08-2004, 10:19 PM
Thank you so much for sharing these delightful stories with us. I save them to savour to their fullest... and I'm certainly no fisherperson!


Celene 'Papa would be pleased that great fishing tales are still being penned...'

10-09-2004, 09:53 AM
I've just read the Jefe's boat report and I must admit that he sounds like a stud muffin. Jefe, if you are out there, I would love to meet up with you sometime. Do you like fish AND chips???? I remain, your cunning linguist.:boat:

Fish boy
10-09-2004, 10:00 AM
now that would be one for the books... a cunninglinguist on a fishing trip with jefe, the best baiter on the red bikini fishing team ;)

10-09-2004, 05:11 PM
Jefe, I love your fishing stories. I also like the fact that you can handle a big rod.

Lets schedule a fishing trip sometime... maybe just make it a guys trip?

Looks like you have quite a following...even lesbian Cunning thinks you are a cool guy.

Shout back at me big boy.

Yours Truly,
Mr. Fella Shio

10-10-2004, 12:18 PM
Cunning I am but what leap of logic did you make to 'lesbian'? And why would a lesbian like to meet such a stud as Jefe? I am ever so astonished and quite amused... CL

Team Jefe
10-10-2004, 12:45 PM
Well, it looks like we have a little fan club...not surprising :biggrin: ....Boys & Girls....Um...Goys & Birls and even a Toona. Well thank you all for the compliments, especially Celene.

I do like my Linguists to be cunning and the Fellas around me to have their Shio-t together so keep tuning in, just remember this is about FISHING. :shark:

Ed Donnelly
10-10-2004, 03:39 PM
Jefe; I have never had an interest in fishing, But, after reading your very well written story, I think I may be missing out on something here..Thank you for the enlightment...Ed

Team Jefe
11-08-2004, 05:13 PM
Eddie, if you ever wnat to make your way to the Gulf Coast, I'll be happy to take you along of one of my adventures.