The Golden Meadow-Fourchon International Tarpon Rodeo
Rodeo Board Members
- President – Eddie Callais
- Vice President – Troy Dufrene
- Secretary – Wanda Theriot
- Treasurer – Terry Danos
- Admiral – Howie Guidry
- Member – Davie Breaux
- Member – Lawrence Plaisance
Like many other great ideas throughout history, the Golden Meadow-Fourchon International Tarpon Rodeo was conceived in a conversation over an afternoon
drink in a bar. It was 1948, and the group of men in Crip’s Bar in Golden Meadow was discussing the possibility of a tarpon tournament. Perhaps
they didn't have any idea of what they were creating, but in the space of over a quarter of a century, the Golden Meadow-Fourchon International
Tarpon Rodeo, in the words of a Baton Rouge outdoor writer, "is becoming one of the prestigious rodeos in the South."
The founders of the rodeo were Milton Egle, John Brady, Sr., Lester Plaisance, Crip Ledet, Alex Plaisance Sr., and Jack Egle. Due to the enthusiasm
of these first Golden Meadow tarpon anglers, the sport of the "Silver King" fishing has mushroomed into what it is today -- one of the most
popular sports among fishing enthusiasts in the state, with all of the major contests in Louisiana being named a "Tarpon Rodeo."
Although our Tarpon Rodeo had a rather humble beginning, it has weathered some lean years and still has managed to swell with interest and enthusiasm.
Since some year's records are not available, segments of this history are information gleaned and scrounged from talking with men who kept
the rodeo alive and growing for over forty years.
In the beginning year, 1948, tarpon was the only eligible fish, and each person put up $10 and winner took all. This demonstrated that the spirit
of competition was very fierce, then as now, because at that time ten bucks looked like more than it does now.
All members and guests were to meet at Belle Pass (Fourchon) one Sunday morning and strike out from there, weather permitting. A scaffold was built
on the beach to hang catch and act as the official weigh station. In those years, from 1948 to 1951, the guys would fish each Sunday until
a tarpon was caught.
Another purpose of the rodeo organization was to participate in a boat parade during the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo. Participants would meet with
the fleet in Barataria and parade together into Bayou Rigaud; a trophy was awarded to the best decorated boat.
In 1954 the present association was formed with Lester PIaisance as President, Milton Egle as Secretary and Crip Ledet as Treasurer. During the
next few years they worked at increasing membership, soliciting $3 dues for memberships. Though they tried to get as many registrants as possible,
the original members were the people who kept the rodeo alive through the 1950s.
The Rodeo Association reached a new milestone in 1962, when it added to its eligible fish list to include redfish, jackfish, trout, and other categories
popular with saltwater anglers. In 1966 a big game division was added, and almost each year since then, other categories of fish have been
added to make the eligible fish list inclusive of almost of every species common to Louisiana waters, both salt and fresh.
Although tarpon had been the only eligible fish in the early years and the association’s activities were very informal, the rodeo had a tremendous
effect on increasing the knowledge of tarpon fishing in the area. Some of the original members taught many of today's outstanding anglers the
art and thrills of taking tarpon all along the Louisiana coast.
Things weren't always bright for the rodeo, and in some years things got dim, so the association was ripe for revival in 1966 when the weighing
station and headquarters were moved to the American Legion Home in Golden Meadow. In the earlier years, both headquarters and weighing station
had been at Crip's Bar. The reason for the move: the rodeo needed additional facilities and physical space. Due to the tremendous growth of
the rodeo, just four years later in 1970, it had already outgrown the American Legion and was searching for a new home. The site selected for
the new headquarters was the Golden Meadow Junior High School grounds.
Since 1966, the rodeo has steadily increased in size and participation. The Golden Meadow International Tarpon Rodeo (as it has been called since
1971) is now a year-round project for members of the board of directors. Board members meet regularly from January right up to the rodeo time
In 1979, the rodeo added the bowfin to its eligible fish in the Freshwater Division; in 1976, the rainbow runner was added to the Shoreline Division
and the mangrove snapper in 1980.
In 1975, the rodeo reinstated the Scuba Diving Division to its program. Considering hook and line and scuba diving, anglers compete for prizes
from 42 different species of fish.
Also in 1975, the board of directors unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the naming of six “Founder’s Awards.” They included the Milton
Egle Award for the first tarpon weighed in, the Lester Plaisance Award for the largest tarpon of the rodeo, the Jack Egle Award for the largest
fish of the first day, the John Brady, Sr. Award for the largest fish of the second day, the Alex Plaisance, Sr. Award for the largest fish
of the third day, and the Clovis “Crip” Ledet Award for the Outstanding Fish of the rodeo. The board also voted to establish the James “Sonny”
Summersgill Memorial Award for the Outstanding Fish in the Blue Water Division.
In 1976, the board voted to establish three additional memorial awards in the memory of former board members whose contributions to the Golden
Meadow Fourchon International Tarpon Rodeo are unquestioned. They are the Nolty Theriot Memorial Award for Best All-Around Fisherman, the A.J.
“Tan” Estay Memorial Award for the Best All-Around Fisherman in the Shoreline Division, and the Alex Plaisance, Sr. Memorial Award, one of
the Founder’s Awards previously mentioned.
All four memorial awards are for men who were active and important board members for many years and active in fishing circles throughout Louisiana.
Since 1977, the Golden Meadow Fourchon International Tarpon Rodeo has been saddened by the deaths of founding fathers Jack Egle, Lester Plaisance,
John Brady, Sr., Nolty J. Theriot, Alex Plaisance, Sr., James "Sonny" Summersgill, and Clovis "Crip" Ledet. The awards bearing their names
are now called memorial awards.
Also in 1977, the town of Golden Meadow saw the death of one of its most outstanding citizens, Mr. James Summersgill, Jr. “Mr. Jimmy" was an avid
sportsman and conservationist. He was preceded in death by his son James "Sonny" SummersgiII III. Because of his loyal support of the GMITR,
the Board of Directors voted to name the First Place Sheepshead Trophy the James H. Summersgill, Jr. Memorial Award. It was his favorite fish.
In 1989, a huge decision was made to move the rodeo headquarters from the Golden Meadow Jr. High School to Port Fourchon. The board felt that the
rodeo would continue to grow due to the Port's large public boat launch, easy access to the Gulf, growing businesses, and a spacious parking
The Golden Meadow International Tarpon Rodeo continued to steadily grow at its new site, because of the hard-working members and the gracious assistance
and support of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission. In 1992, the board renamed the rodeo the Golden Meadow-Fourchon International Tarpon
Rodeo. Also in that year, a new tradition was initiated by choosing an Admiral to preside over the activities and assist in advertising the
rodeo. In order to maintain a "family atmosphere," the rodeo added a Children’s Division to the numerous divisions established throughout its
Over the years, the Golden Meadow-Fourchon International Tarpon Rodeo was organized and run by board members selected from fishermen and businessmen
that were interested in the "fun of fishing" and promoting our parish as a great recreational area. After all the bills were paid, the remaining
proceeds were distributed among charitable organizations. This generosity led to the next major change in rodeo history.
After 28 years of rodeo service, Murphy "Moose" Gisclair and other board members were ready to pass the torch to another group to organize and
conduct the rodeo. In 1998, the 51st Annual Golden Meadow-Fourchon International Tarpon Rodeo was hosted by a local non-profit charitable organization,
the Marty Dufrene Foundation. The Foundation was established in 1986 to assist Marty Dufrene with medical bills incurred from a broken neck
following a diving accident. For the next fifteen years, the foundation assisted in helping hundreds of medically needy people by loaning or
purchasing equipment and paying medical bills. The GMFITR was the single fundraiser for the foundation from 1998 to 2000.
Unfortunately, the foundation’s ability to continue the rodeo tradition dwindled. In 2001, the South Lafourche Quarterback Club came to the rescue
and prevented a catastrophe from occurring. The Club’s goal was to promote and assist high school students and athletes with academic scholarships,
safe equipment, and a safe environment in which to conduct their activities. The rodeo was on the verge of cancellation for 2001, but the SLQC
assumed the role of host and made a successful rodeo happen. That year the rodeo headquarters changed location to the Port Fourchon Marina
and Motel, mainly to allow large fishing boats to dock near the scales and unload their catch.
While preparing for the 2010 rodeo, catastrophe struck the Gulf and its waters. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill closed fishing waters in Louisiana
for months, especially near Port Fourchon and Grand Isle, and facilities were being used for the massive cleanup effort. The rodeo was canceled,
and GMFITR applied for and received an oil spill claim, ensuring that even if the fishing was a no go, the rodeo was still able to provide
charitable funds and scholarships in 2010. The rodeo came back better than ever in 2011, with two tarpons placing on the leader board and almost
every category filled with eligible fish. The 2012 rodeo made history with the addition of the “King of the Catch” seafood cook-off.
Over the next two years, participation in the rodeo dwindled, and the board of directors decided it was time to seek new direction for the future
of the rodeo. They approached the Lafourche Chamber Foundation – the non-profit wing of the Lafourche Chamber of Commerce – about the possibility
of partnering to present the 2015 rodeo, with the understanding that the foundation would eventually take over the entire rodeo operation.
The Lafourche Chamber had already been contemplating beginning their own fishing rodeo, and so, after careful consideration, the board of directors
concluded that taking over operation of such a historic rodeo was an honor they could not pass up. They began working immediately to re-brand
the rodeo in order to renew excitement about the historic rodeo in its 67th year.
The Golden Meadow-Fourchon International Tarpon Rodeo continues to grow in membership and popularity each year, and we’re ready to be out on the
water again this July. We hope to see you and your family enjoying Port Fourchon and the GMFITR this year and every year on Independence Day