Red snapper opens Friday in La. waters _lowres

Photo provided by B.A.S.S./Bryan Brascher Alex Lamabe, left, and Trey Brougeois show off four of the five bass they caught to finish 15th in Sunday's Costa Bassmaster High School Central Open on Toledo Bend. With a total stringer weight of 10 pounds, 13 ounces, the St. Michael the Archangel teammates were the highest finishers among the 119 teams entered from the Capital City and Acadiana areas. The top Louisiana team came from Natchitoches Central High anglers Nicholas Wiggins and Lane Possoit, who finished second with a 17-11, just one ounce behind the winning team from Buna High in Texas.

The week’s top outdoors story came when Wildlife and Fisheries’ secretary Robert Barham’s announced that the state’s recreational red snapper season will open Friday.

Even better for recreational fishermen is that season dates will mirror the 2014 season in that there are no restrictions on days. The 2014 recreational season in state waters ran from last February through the end of the year.

When state fisheries managers opened the first state season in 2013, it carried an open only Friday-through-Sunday period from Palm Sunday weekend through Sept. 30.

There are no such restrictions in 2015’s seven-days-a-week season that will run “until further notice.”

Like the past two years, the state’s daily creel of two red snapper per day with each fish kept measuring a minimum of 16 inches is the same as the federal regulations for taking the species from federal waters.

In the announcement, Barham echoed data presented during the March 5 Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting that showed state recreational anglers took an estimated 621,000 pounds of red snapper in 2014. That total, according to state marine managers data, was 82 percent of the state’s historic recreational red snapper catch of 754,000 pounds. The state’s data, compiled through the 2-year-old LaCreel Program, showed the state’s recreational red snapper catch was estimated at 164,500 pounds during 2014’s federal June 1-9 season.

Monday’s announcement also carried a warning for recreational anglers after the LWFC approved a state Legislature-approved plan in 2013 to extend state waters from three miles off the state’s coast out to three marine leagues — slightly more than 10 miles — into the Gulf of Mexico. The warning stated that state managers expect federal agents to enforce the three-mile boundary.

Recreational anglers were also advised that state regs require a no-fee Recreational Offshore Landing Permit to catch and possess red snapper along with tuna, billfish, swordfish, amberjack, grouper, snapper, hind, wahoo, cobia and dolphin. Fishermen on charter trip do not need the ROLP if the charter captain holds a permit. Permits are available on the LDWF’s website: rolp.wlf.la.gov.

Our young anglers

With some of the top pro bass fishermen in the country sure to show up in Louisiana waters this week for the first of 2015’s Bassmaster Elite Series events — the Thursday-through-Sunday tournament is on the Sabine River out of Orange, Texas — the 110 pros can thank more than 200 Louisiana bassin’ guys for spurring the excitement for their big-money get-together after two major events around here in the past week.

Saturday in the Bassmaster Central Open on Ross Barnett Reservoir near Jackson, Mississippi, Gonzales angler Travis Laurent finished second in the Nonboater Division and earned a little more than $6,000 for his three-day, 23 pounds, 11 ounces total. His was the highest finish from among more than 100 Louisiana entries in the field’s two divisions.

Then, Sunday on Toledo Bend out of Many, Alex Lamabe and Trey Bourgeois of St. Michael the Archangel and competing for East Baton Rouge Bassmasters, finished 15th, the highest among 11 area teams, in the Bassmaster High School Central Open. A pair of seventh-graders from Buna High School in Texas were the winners. Lamabe is the grandson of former LSU baseball coach Jack Lamabe.

Oyster closure

After opening the sacking and seed-oyster take on public grounds in St. Bernard Parish waters Monday, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) announced that those activities will close at one-half hour after sunset Friday.

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approved, through a Declaration of Emergency, to cease the take from these areas when “based on biological data or if enforcement problems are encountered.”

LDWF managers estimated oystermen took more than 54,000 sacks of seed oysters, oysters less than three inches long, and nearlt 3,000 sacks of market-size oysters, three inches or longer, on Monday’s first day of the special season.

As many as six St. Bernard oystermen asked the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission to delay the opening for another year until the oysters on the public grounds could recover from Hurricane Gustav and other storms since Gustav ravaged the area in 2008.