At least for the first week in May, coastal fishermen are forgetting what they complained about during the same time last year.
Remember when morning temperatures dipped into the 40s in early May 2014? Remember that even into the usually fish-rich months of June and July that speckled trout catches remained unusually low?
That’s not the case this year: Trout are everywhere from Lake Pontchartrain to areas near the mouth of the Mississippi River, then west into Grand Isle, Elmer’s Island, Fourchon and lower Terrebonne waters.
Despite rough conditions Thursday and Friday (southeast winds up in the 15-20 knot range and choppy waters), catches in Pontchartrain remained solid. Trout were on The Causeway, but fishermen had to leave because the lake got too rough. The Trestles continued to produce on blue moon- and ultraviolet-colored soft plastics.
Saturday’s early morning report from the Central Coast was that a rising tide and ripples into the beach was perfect for another run at the trout on topwaters — baits like Zara Spooks, MirrOlures and the old Jumpin’ Minnow (chartreuse/silver).
Most of the other action is on soft plastics and the best colors have been blue moon/chartreuse, opening night and black/chartreuse. One report from the Lake Island surf and structures in Lake Pelto had the old-time double-rigged H&H chartreuse Beetles take 14-18 inch trout two at a time.
Now for the shrimp
Coastal fishermen will have another week before they will share the state’s “inside” waters with the small-boat shrimp fleet. The spring inshore shrimp season will open at 6 a.m. May 18.
That was the agreed-on date for all state waters, along with the state offshore waters from Atchafalaya River Ship Channel west to Freshwater Bayou Canal.
If that reads unusual, it is. The commission acted on pleas from shrimpers across the state for a statewide opening to avoid bunching boats in small areas for different openings in the state’s three major East, Central and West shrimping areas. Shrimpers from the Central Coast also told the commission that a later date would allow shrimp to grow to sizes that would yield a higher dock-side price.
That vote came despite state biologists’ data that showed the brown shrimp count in the Mermentau-Calcasieu-Sabine area would not make the mandated 100-count limit (100 shrimp to the pound) as late as May 27.
State Shrimp Study leader Marty Bourgeois told the commission that those “cross-over” dates (when shrimp were larger than 100 count) ranged from May 10 in the northern Lake Pontchartrain study zone to May 27 in waters in the Mermentau-Calcasieu-Sabine study area.
Bourgeois advised the commission that shrimp growth lagged in April because of heavy rains, but that predominately south and southeast winds and little rainfall allowed for better shrimp during the past two weeks. The southeast winds also pushed more shrimp into the marshes and created a situation where these new, smaller shrimp should provide additional and more constant shrimp production through the spring season.
The only detriment, as commission member Dan Davis said, was that the May 18 opener comes a day after May’s new moon phase, a period when stronger tides could move shrimp from the marshes through passes and into the Gulf of Mexico.
News from Kisatchie
The conservation successes in the Kisatchie National Forest during the past five decades was one of the main reasons KNF was selected to represent Louisiana in the special America the Beautiful Quarters Program.
The special quarter depicts an Eastern wild turkey taking flight over native blue-stem grass with a long-leaf pine in the background. Successful wild turkey restocking and continued work to enhance wild turkey habitat has made Kistachie a prime turkey hunting area in Louisiana, and federal and state foresters have worked for the past 30 years to reforest the hundreds of thousands of KNF acres with long-leaf pine, a species native to the state and a tree that was clear-cut across the state’s central parishes early in the 20th century.
Safe Boating Week
The National Safe Boating Council’s message is clear for the May 16-22 National Safe Boating Week — Wear It!
That’s because the final 2013 U.S. Coast Guard numbers are in and the report indicates that drowning “was the reported cause of death in three-fourths of recreational boating fatalities in 2013, and that 84 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.”
It didn’t take long to find Louisiana’s numbers in the report: With 15 boating deaths in 2013, the state ranked 10th in the nation.
Through 2015’s first four months, Louisiana has seven boating-related fatalities compared to one during the first four months in 2014.
For more about the Wear It! campaign, go to website: www.safeboatingcampaign.com, and for the NSBC’s inflatable life jacket instructional video, go to website: www.safeboatingcampaign.com/instructional.htm.
Representatives from the American Boating Congress, including the Mercury Marine technical staff, are heading to Congress this week to discuss 15 percent ethanol gasoline among other boating-related issues.
News from Mercury is that its Marine staff got together with Wired2Fish on a video to educate boaters about the downside of E15 and what it does to marine engines.
“It’s bad for outboards,” Wired2Fish’s Scott Glorvigen said. “You don’t want to use it in your outboards by any means. E15 can ruin engines and void engine warranties.”
Mercury Marine’s Martin Bass said there are additional concerns: “But the bigger issue is safety. Using E15 can be dangerous to the consumer if something happens to your engine,” among which are stalling, corrosion leading to oil or fuel leaks, increased emissions and damaged components.
For the latest on E15, go to website: www.nmma.org.