There’s every reason to believe we came through the coldest winter in 50 years, and now it looks like we’re going to have as prolonged a spring as we’ve had in a long time.
For fishermen, the two seasons are more connected than the usual chilly to downright hot transition we have between south Louisiana’s winters and summers.
Talk to any experienced inshore charter skipper you choose, and the word is winter’s bitter cold has pushed the speckled trout clock back 3-5 weeks, meaning that what we’d normally see on mid-March days are what they’ve been seeing in the last days of April.
Trout in the Lake Pontchartrain aren’t showing up in any appreciable numbers, and what most folks are finding are on the small side.
And with more rain coming in an already above-flood-stage Pearl River Basin (it goes all the way north to Barnett Reservoir north of Jackson, Miss.), the promise of can’t-miss, trout-catching days on the east side of Lake Borgne into The Rigolets and to Pontchartrain’s North Shore will be delayed much longer.
Years of fishing logs tell that a high Pearl River loads up the eastern and northern section of the Pontchartrain Basin with fresh water, which is a condition veteran charter fishermen use to their advantage.
The cup half-full move is to head to the western and southern waters, like Pontchartrain’s south shore and in the Biloxi Marsh, and waters off the old MRGO in the Hopedale area to find trout.
Likely an unwise move to think about heading out Monday and Tuesday. Another cold front is trying push to the coast and thunderstorms and winds with gusts up to 30 knots are in the forecast. It doesn’t look like we’ll have much rain in the southern parishes, but as much as two inches of rain is expected in parishes and counties across the middle of Louisiana and Mississippi.
After that clears, the two hottest areas in the past two weeks have been Delacroix — look for trout in Oak River and the deeper canals — and in Theriot area where folks are drifting Lake Mechant for trout and hitting canals for redfish.
Federal fisheries managers announced Friday that the recreational season for the take of gray triggerfish from Gulf of Mexico federal waters — recognized as three miles off the Louisiana coast out to 200 miles — will close at 12:01 a.m. May 1 and remain closed until 12:01 a.m. Jan. 1.
Beginning May 1, federal rules close the gray triggerfish season, prohibit the recreational “harvest or possession,” and closes the species in state and federal waters for for-hire boats with a Gulf of Mexico reef fish charter/headboat permit.
The announcement further explained that, “Gulf of Mexico gray triggerfish are managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico. On June 10, 2013, NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) Fisheries implemented rule-making intended to end overfishing of gray triggerfish.
“This rule set the recreational annual catch limit at 241,200 pounds whole weight and the annual catch target at 217,100 pounds.”
NOAA Fisheries first closed the recreational gray triggerfish in October, 2013, when data it collected indicated the quota has been caught. Continued federal study indicated to federal managers that recreationals exceeded the annual catch, which forced the agency to cut short subsequent fishing seasons to avoid overfishing in a species federal managers consider to be overfished.
While Thursday’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting will decide opening dates for the state’s spring inshore shrimp season, shrimpers will be able to get a head start on catches Tuesday.
Late last week, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Shrimp Study managers said white shrimp in the area of Caillou Boca south of Cocodrie and west to the Atchafalaya River Ship Channel had grown large enough to open a season at 6 a.m. Tuesday in state outside waters that include waters from the inside/outside shrimp line seaward for three miles into the Gulf of Mexico.