Louisiana Sportsman Show gives outdoorsmen some relief _lowres

Photo provided by RENNIE CARTER Trout on the rocks Veteran Central Coast fisherman Rennie Carter from Baton Rouge shows off a 7-pound, 11-ounce speckled trout he took on a trip last weekend to the rocks off East Timblier. Carter took advantage of a rare late winter weekend when calm seas and clear water invaded the barrier islands off the Fourchon coast. It was one of 20 trout he took during the morning on live bait. He estimated most of his catch were in the 3-4 pound range.

Since it’s apparent the forces in charge of the weather have put enough water on Louisiana to keep turkey hunters from getting into the fields and fishermen from getting on the water, the Thursday-through Sunday 37th annual Louisiana Sportsman Show and Festival is coming to town to help chase away the flooding, rainy-day blues.

It’s been 10 years since another a weather disaster named Katrina chased the show from its original home in the Mercedez-Benz Superdome up river to Gonzales and the Lamar Dixon Expo Center.

The move allowed this outdoors extravaganza to expand by leaps and bounds, so much so as to attract sponsorship by the Bayou Buick GMC Dealers and to open Lamar Dixon’s expanses to what show organizers describe as “acres of boats, fishing and hunting equipment, ATVs, tractors and outdoor power equipment, and activities for the entire family ... and more than 250 vendors offering fishing tackle and hunting gear.”

Daily admission is $10 for adults and $5 for ages 6-12. Show hours are noon-7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

While there is more room for boats, ATVs and other outdoor needs, arguably what’s grown the most in recent years is the Louisiana Sportsman Big Buck Contest, a chance for deer hunters from Louisiana and Mississippi to show up with their trophies taken during the recent season. Staffed by qualified Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young associations’ scorers and the South Louisiana Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association, the booth offers prizes in several categories.

For the youngsters, there’s a “Kids Area” — no admission charged next Sunday to bring them along — and for the retriever owners, there’s another year of “Splash Dogs” competition.

Yamaha is sponsoring a track to try out its ATVS, and there’s a “Fetch & Fish” area offering freshwater and coastal fishing seminars and retriever demonstrations.

Bowie Outfitters adds a Baton Rouge touch with sales and hunting and fishing manufacturers reps in “The Sportsman Zone;” there are opportunities to book hunting and fishing trips across the country, even Alaska; and, lots of food.

Closures

State Wildlife and Fisheries announced flood-caused closures on a number of wildlife management areas, including the Pearl River WMA.

Other WMAs with closed roads include Russell Sage east of Monroe, Sonny Gilbert WMA in Catahoula Parish, Bayou Macon WMA northwest of Lake Providence, Big Lake WMA in Franklin, Madison and Tensas parishes, and Boeuf WMA southeast of Columbia.

The LDWF also issued an advisory for the Larto-Saline Lake Complex explaining water levels in the Red, Ouachita and Black rivers will push lake water levels to 50 feet, about two feet higher than the high-water mark two months ago, a level that “... will close many of the access roads in the area and is expected to cause flooding of numerous homes and camps.”

The rescuers

Through Friday, Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents assisted in the rescue of 579 people, 52 dogs and two cats after flooding in 11 north Louisiana parishes, then Livingston, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes in south Louisiana.

Elmer’s Island restrictions

Beginning Monday, March 21, access to the east off the parking area on Elmer’s Island will be restricted to foot traffic. No vehicles will be allowed to travel east from the parking lot off La. 1 north of Grand Isle. There is a current ban on all traffic west of the access road.

The traffic bans will allow continued work on the 13-mile-long Caminada Headland Beach and Dune Restoration Project, which the LDWF and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority anticipates will last through the summer into the fall months.

Get with BOLO

There’s still time to vote on the second year of Best of Louisiana Outdoors, the far-ranging, online balloting to determine voters’ best-of-the-best in the state.

You can vote on BOLO’s website: www.BestofLAoutdoors.com, to select from “best of” categories among Boating, Guides, Bait & Tackle, Marinas, Apparel and something BOLO co-founder Bruno Prager calls “Lagniappe.”

Voters are eligible for prizes like a bluewater charter trip with lodging, an inshore charter trip and marine electronics to be handed out in a random drawing. Balloting ends this month.

New Fishtival twist

Two-angler high school fishing teams are encouraged to enter a first-time Battle for the Bass as part of the annual New Orleans City Park Big Bass Rodeo and Fishtival set April 2. Register by noon April 1 on website: www.fishla.org/community-outreach.

There’s a $5 fee.

Call Danica Williams (504) 628-7282 for details.