By Chris Holmes
The running joke for Ride the Bull 7 was there would be a men's division this year. Smarting from back-to-back victories by lady anglers in RTB 5 and 6, the guys were needing some man-card validation. Brock Miller to the rescue. The 16-year old from Baton Rouge, Louisiana claimed the title back for the guys with his impressive 34.56 pound bull red that earned him first place, cash, a new Wilderness Systems kayak and much respect.
On the way down to Grand Isle, Miller's dad had a hunch. "I think this is our year," the elder Miller said. It was. This was the younger Miller's fourth time fishing RTB and the first red he's landed in the tournament. His live blue crab did the trick about an hour and thirty minutes after start time. Miller's bull topped a record breaking 133 reds entered and a leader board that commanded a fish nearly 29 pounds to break into the Top 10.
Miller continued fishing with no additional luck and decided to head in for lunch at 12:30 p.m. "I was checking Facebook all morning and knew I was still leading. We decided to take a break. After eating and relaxing a while, I decided to just ride it out," he said. With the amount of fish being caught throughout the day, it was a risky decision, but one that ultimately held up. Miller claimed first pick of the five Wilderness Systems kayaks up for grabs. He chose the Atak 140 in Midnight camo color. As if that wasn't enough, he also received a beautiful crystal redfish plaque and a cool $3,000 cash prize.
Despite the devastating floods that hit parts of south Louisiana only two weeks ago, the tournament maintained its “World's Largest Kayak Fishing Tournament” status by registering just over 600 kayak anglers and having 545 boats hit the water.
"We knew the numbers were going to be a little less with so many kayakers affected by the floods. We continue to pray for their recovery and look forward to having them back next year," said Ride the Bull Tournament Director, Rad Trascher.
The tournament operations for 2016 were assumed by Coastal Conservation Association Louisiana of which Trascher is their Director of Development/Star Tournament Director. The RTB was founded by Grand Isle captains Danny and Kristen Wray and CCA was tapped by Danny Wray to run the event following Kristen's death from cancer earlier this year.
All anglers put in for a 7:30 a.m. shotgun start for this unique, live catch-weigh-tag-release bull redfish tournament. To ease congestion at the start, the kayak anglers launched at perennial host Bridge Side Marina and their sister property, Wake Side Marina, located on the other side of the Caminada Pass bridge. Within minutes, the anglers were able to paddle/pedal to their hot spots and get baits in the water. In less than 30 minutes, the assist boats were whisking live bulls in to the scale. The action was absolutely crazy with three and four bulls coming in on each assist boat.
Tournament shirts were provided by first-time sponsor AFTCO and regional representative Michael Glass was blown away by what he saw. "This is AFTCO's first major jump into kayak fishing tournaments and I was amazed. AFTCO is all about giving back to the culture and conservation of fishing and Ride the Bull fits that perfectly," he said.
Dwayne Walley is not just a RTB tournament angler, he's also a pro staff member of presenting sponsor Wilderness Systems.
"Wilderness is fortunate to be a part of the World's Largest Kayak Fishing Tournament,” Walley said. “As an avid tournament angler, I can say it is the best run, most organized and informative tournament I've participated in.
“Of course we're already getting questions about whether any Wilderness kayaks with the new Helix pedal drive will be up for grabs at next year's RTB!" he added.
Don't worry ladies, y'all still made an impressive showing with two lady anglers claiming Top 10 prize money and several others sending fish to the scale.
To say RTB is unique is an understatement. Ride The Bull sees all levels of participants from seasoned tournament anglers to those launching a kayak for the first time. When the scales close, those lucky enough to be on the board earn bragging rights for besting hundreds and hundreds of other kayak anglers. It's a kayak tournament, food and music festival and family reunion all rolled into one. Where else can you fish and party with hundreds of your closest friends other than Grand Isle, Louisiana?
For more information on RTB, go to www.ccalouisiana.com
Top 10 Finishers, Ride the Bull 7
1st Place Brock Miller 34.56
2nd Place Noel France 32.70
3rd Place Elby Champagne 32.38
4th Place Brad Valtierra 32.24
5th Place Jeff McNabb 32.04
6th Place Tammy Hartley 30.42
7th Place Brittney Jones 29.92
8th Place Stephen Landaiche 29.90
9th Place Dustin Breaux 29.42
10th Place Aaron Breaux 28.76