The recent push of cold fronts has helped waterfowl hunters taking to public areas in the coastal marshes, especially the Salvador Wildlife Management Area where duck-hunting success has been on the low side for several years.
The latest report, and the second during the season’s second split, from state Wildlife and Fisheries’ biologist Shane Granier identified 30 hunters (the most this season) went into the Salvador ponds and average 4.2 ducks per hunter, a significant increase over the less than one-duck-per during the season’s first split.
Lesser scaup – dos gris to south Louisiana hunters – made up more than 70 percent of the take with bluewing teal and ringnecks rounding out the take. That follows reports of huge numbers of the blue-billed dos gris invading the coastal marshes almost since the November start of the 60-day season.
The Atchafalaya Delta WMA, which came up short in the first split, too – showed a 3.8 ducks-per-hunter average with the bulk of take coming in the Wax Delta area and the expanded Wax Delta limited-access area. Bluewing and greenwing teal and gray ducks accounted for more than 60 percent of the birds taken. In addition to hunting success, the big news there came in seeing increasing numbers of mallards and canvasbacks.
Pass a Loutre WMA, usually the leader in hunter success, showed a modest 3.1 birds-per-hunter with gray ducks making up 42 percent of the bag, while dos gris made up 84 percent of the bag on an average of 2.5 ducks-per-hunter on the Pointe aux Chenes WMA.
Cold rain, cloudy conditions and dropping overnight temperatures have brought a fishing report from across the coastal marshes that trout and redfish began moving to the deeper holes.
The best catches east of the Mississippi River have come from the Intracoastal Waterway and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet with mixed reports (one day good, next day bad) from the Chef area.
Canals in Cocodrie off Bayou Terrebonne and in the bayou where you can find deep oyster beds, and canals in the Theriot and Dulac areas are holding more fish than the marshes. Look for runouts here, because trout and reds are feeding on the falling tides, then following baitfish into the runouts on easterly and southerly winds.
The only open-water action report is from reefs and points north of Grand Isle well up into Barataria Bay.
Cloudy days are helping sac-a-lait fishermen find decent numbers in the Atchafalaya Spillway on black/chartreuse tubes. Bass catches are hit and miss throughout the Verret and Atchafalaya basins.
The best bass action during the last week has come from the marshes on the southwest end of Lake Pontchartrain west into the MRGO area.
Fishermen heading to the coast need to give the duck hunters a first shot at the landings and a chance for early morning success before heading into the marshes seeking speckled trout and redfish. The first complaints of the year came over last weekend from the Delacroix and Berwick (Atchafalaya Delta) areas.
-National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Forecasts: nws.noaa.gov. Find the “Coastal/Great Lakes Forecasts by Zones – Gulf – New Orleans, La.” and a map with 13 different nearshore, offshore and Lake Pontchartrain wind and waves predictions for the next five days.
-Weather Underground: wunderground.com. Current conditions, a 10-day forecast, and hour-by-hour predicted temperatures, winds, precipitation and barometric pressure.
-National Weather Service’s River Forecast Center: water.weather.gov for river stages.
Spring lottery hunts
Wildlife and Fisheries has set a Feb. 9 application deadline for 2018 turkey season lottery hunts on nine WMAs for the general public and on 11 WMAs for youth hunters.
Applications, hunting dates and locations can be found on the LDWF website: wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/lottery-hunts.
The special statewide, private-lands-only youth and physically challenged hunter weekend is set March 30-April 1.