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Jul 16, 2012 11:36 AM by AP

Tarpon rodeo no longer just a good ol' boys event

PORT FOURCHON, La. (AP) - Just when the 64th annual Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo looked like it was turning out to be a good ol' boys reunion, a handful of women came to the weigh station and changed the face of this long-standing Fourth of July weekend fishing celebration along Bayou Lafourche.

Baton Rouge anglers Jan Constantino and Emily Bankston, and Bankston's Blue Line teammate Monique Savoy, stole some of the thunder and bragging rights from the guys in the rodeo's final minutes Saturday afternoon.

Remember Savoy? She's the slightly built New Orleanian who dazzled the GMFTR crowd last year with a giant blue marlin she caught aboard Dr. Brent Bankston's "Blue Line."

While Savoy came in with the top wahoo, a 41 pound, 8-ounce specimen, and Emily Bankston's took first and third places in blackfin tuna, it was Constantino's giant, 28-pound, 1-ounce red snapper that completed the women's red, white and blue charge to another first-place trophy.

That wasn't all: Constantino, fishing with husband Steve and Baton Rougean Pete McKnight aboard Randy Pipes' "Pipe Dream," took first in the Big Game Division's Tag & Release category with her first-ever blue marlin and first-ever white marlin.

"I've never caught either fish before. What an experience. Everyone was sleeping on the boat, except for one deckhand and it was early in the morning, and the fish (estimated to be a 200-pound blue marlin) jumped behind the boat and I was jumping up and down in the (fighting) chair and everyone woke up and I was ready to jump out of the chair and everybody told me to sit back down and fight it because it was my fish," Constantino said.

Her machine gun-like delivery of her story made it clear that she was still excited about that confrontation so many hours later.

Her later battle with a 100-pound white marlin equaled her blue marlin story. All the red snapper did was leave her wanting a shower to get ready for the later-Saturday-night awards ceremony.

For young Emily Bankston, the battles with the blackfin tuna only added to the pleasure of fishing with family and friends and the calm seas and great weather that produced tagged blue marlin for Savoy and a tagged white marlin for Bo Bankston.

But, yes, the men did dominate, and Baton Rouge anglers accounted for 10 first places, 9 seconds and 10 third spots on the leaderboard.

Acadiana area anglers finished the two-day competition with two places.

On the "man" side was Watson's Nicholas Broderick, who led the Children's Division with a 2 pound,14 ounce catfish, a spot he cherished after missing out on getting a little-too-long redfish (reds had to measure less than 27 inches long) on the board. The North Live Oak Elementary student said he, his dad and his younger brother caught fish ".at the rocks, in the marshes around a grassy area and in open water (Lake Raccourci) and around the barges."

Then there was Joel Gremillion stealing the rodeo's first day with a near 400-pound blue marlin; Louisiana's tarpon master Lance "Coon" Chouest coming in with the rodeo's lone tarpon; and, the mostly Baton Rouge crew on the Tenacious taking several leaderboard spots after finding a miles-long rip line between green water and cobalt-blue water action less than 60 miles offshore.

The most unusual story of the day came when Helldivers' George Ansardi speared an 18-4 permit.

"I've never seen that fish here," weigh master and marine biologist Marty Bourgeois said. "You just don't see that fish in the northern Gulf of Mexico."

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