Gulf Coast Fishing Rodeo – Not Just for the Anglers
Here on the Gulf Coast, two things we outdoors folks really love are fishing and competition with our fishing. We like seeing who can catch the biggest fish while we’re at it.
Fishing rodeos are a part of the Gulf Coast culture – some tournaments have been around for eighty years or so, and every summer, there are at least fourteen major gulf coast fishing rodeos scheduled. Some of these tournaments are pretty serious business with lots of big, expensive boats and very hard-core crews and anglers going after big fish and big bucks. These events are pretty much out of the reach of regular folks to participate in.
But for pure fun for the whole family, there’s no gulf coast fishing rodeo quite like the Flora-Bama Fishing Rodeo. No matter what kind of fishing a person prefers, and no matter what the angler’s age, there’s a category in the rodeo for him or her.
And although the Flora-Bama Fishing Rodeo doesn’t have the age and long experience of some Gulf Coast fishing rodeos, by all reports, people who take part in the Flora-Bama Fishing Rodeo, either as active participants or spectators love the weekend spent fishing or looking at fish on the coast.
A couple of folks intimately involved with the annual fishing tournament at the world-famous watering hole on the Florida/Alabama border tell us about the event.
The Flora-Bama Fishing Rodeo- From the Beginning to Now
Angelo Depaola has been a major part of the rodeo from the outset. He says, “John McInnis, owner of the Flora-Bama, and I have been friends since childhood, and we wanted to create an Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo type event in southern Baldwin County. I have been president since the inception of the rodeo and was involved in the day to day decisions for the first couple of years. Now, John’s team at the Flora-Bama pretty much do all the heavy lifting. They are great and really have the rodeo dialed in now.”
Jenifer Parnell, Marketing and PR Director for the Flora-Bama says, “The tournament caters to all walks of life, just like the Flora-Bama does. We have over 30 categories you can fish for, and there are events for all ages, and we have low entry fees to compete. The style of tournament allows people to fish off the beach, a pier, or a boat, and it gives people of all income backgrounds a chance to win really amazing prizes. Just like the Flora-Bama, we want all different people to come together and be able to make memories together.”
A very good thing about the Flora-Bama Fishing Rodeo is that it takes place during red snapper season, so anglers can bring in the plentiful and large reds for prizes and fame- and then have a great red snapper supper afterward.
And How Many Folks Take Part?
With fishing tournaments like many other events, the more who take part, the merrier. And it appears the Flora- Bama Fishing Rodeo ought to be a pretty merry time to be on the Gulf Coast.
Jenifer Parnell tells us, “Every year we have between 500 and 900 anglers, and the number is usually weather dependent for the variation. There are thousands of people who come through Flora-Bama Yacht Club and Flora-Bama Ole River Grill throughout the weekend to experience our restaurants, waterways, live music, and the sponsor area and weigh station.”
Parnell continues, “There is a sponsor area that will have a fish viewing station so kids can see different kinds of fish and be able to touch them. Face painting, games for the kids and adults like corn hole, vendors selling clothes and a variety of products for non-anglers to peruse, and interactive kids’ area from Reptile Keepers LLC with live birds, reptiles, coloring stations, and a bones display from Perdido Key State Park with educational guides and activity workshops are all here for the folks who come to the rodeo.”
And It’s Not Just a Fishing Party
Although catching some big fish and hopefully gaining bragging rights for a year is an important element of the tournament, the Flora-Bama Fishing Rodeo is not simply about a lot of folks catching some big fish to show off and brag about. There are real positive results of the weekend’s activities.
Angelo DePaola says, “We give a portion of our proceeds to Operation Reconnect which brings military members back immediately returning from deployment to Gulf Shores/Orange Beach to reconnect with their families for a week-long uninterrupted free vacation. The tournament is all about FUN, and it’s a low entry fee, but we have some of the best prizes on the Gulf Coast. This is a family-friendly weekend.”
This year’s rodeo will be held from May 31 through June 2, and there will be 40 categories. Anglers who want to participate need to purchase a ticket by May 30. For specific dates and information about the Flora-Bama Fishing Rodeo, go to www.florabamafishingrodeo.com.