Four days after what appears to have been a terrific 16-day special teal season, and with big duck season 33 days away, duck hunters should be able to settle in.
It’s time to enjoy the first big push of weather to break summer’s annual hold on Louisiana, and plan the days to brush blinds, prepare decoys and make sure all’s ready for another 60-day season.
There’s something else, something for the future, maybe as early as the 2016-2017 duck and goose seasons, when hunters will be asked for comments on proposed shifts in the state’s three-zone waterfowl plan.
State Waterfowl Study leader Larry Reynolds outlined the schedule during Thursday’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting.
Reynolds said the new federal waterfowl seasons scheduling plan, a move that should announce the framework for season days and bag limits for the country’s four flyways, should be forthcoming in January, or at the latest in February, months ahead of the decades-long schedule of announcing those days and limits in August.
With that federal plan in place, Louisiana must make its intentions for its plan for zones and splits for the next five years by Dec. 1. Reynolds said the state’s current five-year plan runs out at the end of the upcoming season. He said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will allow states to use their current zones and splits schedule through the 2016-2017, but any changes made thereafter will hold for the next four years, or through 2021.
Commission member Billy Broussard of Pecan Island said the commission, through Reynolds, should come up with a proposed map outlining waterfowl hunting zones as soon as possible to allow for public comment before the commission’s Nov. 5 meeting, presumably when the commission would approve zone changes.
That move prompted discussion, mostly centered on the reaction Reynolds and commission members received after approving an early-in-the-framework opening (Nov. 7) for Coastal Zone hunters in August when Reynolds presented the results of a waterfowl hunter survey showing hunters preferred a later opening day and later-in-the-season hunting opportunity especially in the eastern portion of the Coastal Zone.
After some wrangling, and preferences offered by other commission members, Reynolds agreed to offer a proposal.
That map, Reynolds said Friday, will be posted to the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries website (www.wlf.louisiana.gov) sometime Monday. The Advocate will also make it available via website: theadvocate.com.
The biggest change will be to reduce the size of the Coastal Zone, and make the East Zone the largest of the three zones with the dividing line at the Atchafalaya River, but leaving the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area in the Coastal Zone.
Among the considerations for the new map are changes in the northern section boundary between East and West zones — to move that boundary farther to the east — moving Allen Parish into the West Zone, but maintaining La. 14 as the major demarcation between the Coastal and West zones in the southwestern parishes.
Again, without a consensus among commission members, a decision on any and all changes could be held over until next year with any changes taking effect for the 2017-2018 waterfowl season.
Contacts for public comment will be published on the LDWF and Advocate websites Monday.
Cleaning freezers II
Following a successful collection last Sunday in the Capital City area, volunteers will man at least four sites in the Acadiana area from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday for a second in the Hunters for the Hungry’s Clean Out Your Freezer Day.
Sunday’s locations include Academy Sports and Outdoors in Lafayette, First Assembly Church of God in Youngsville, Nissan of Opelousas in that community and Chops Specialty Meats in Broussard. All collections will remain in the communities.
Donations totaled 5,158 pounds of frozen game, fish and meats in last week’s Capital City Area COYF Day, all of which went to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.
Other COYF Day collections are set for later dates in Alexandria, Lake Charles, Natchitoches, Monroe and Natchez, Mississippi.
Like the Capital City drive, anyone donating in the Acadiana area will be eligible in a drawing for a Thompson Center Venture camo rifle .270 fitted with a Nikon scope donated by South Louisiana Branch of QDMA.
Virginia Archer, development director for Hunters for the Hungry, said the drawing for the rifle will be held as soon as all donor forms are returned from Capital Area, Shreveport, Minden and Acadiana collection sites.
A new member
Official confirmation should be forthcoming to announce Julie Harrington Hebert, a recreational fisher from Luling, to fill the seventh seat on the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission. Sources told The Advocate Outdoors that Hebert will move into the slot currently occupied by Billy Broussard — Broussard holds the one commission seat reserved to “serve at the pleasure and during the term of the governor” — and Broussard will take the seat vacated by Hammond, who resigned in August to take one of Louisiana’s three seats on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.
Lessard to defend title
Baton Rouge kayak angler Steve Lessard will have a chance to defend his Hobie Fishing World Championship after being selected among the three IFA Kayak Tour anglers qualifying to compete in the 2015 Hobie Fishing World Championship.
The three days of fishing will come during the week of Nov. 9-15 on Shang Lake in China.
Lessard outdueled 46 other kayak anglers representing 19 countries to win the 2014 world title on the Vinkeveen Plassen, a series of three freshwater lakes in the northern reaches of The Netherlands.
Lessard earned the 2014 berth by winning the 2013 IFA Championship in Houma.
Another veteran of fishing Louisiana waters, Benton Parrott of Daphne, Alabama, also was chosen for the field. Like Lessard, Parrott is an IFA Kayak Tour regular and earned the berth in the world championship after winning the 2014 IFA Kayak Championship.
Another IFA kayaker, Dave Jaskiewicz of Wando, South Carolina, earned a spot after winning a 2015 IFA Kayak Tour event.
Initial rules for the world championship were outlined earlier last week: The 47 anglers will fish for Chinese perch, topmouth cutler and yellowcheek carp from identically rigged Hobie Mirage® Pro Angler 14’s, and the winner will be determined by catch-photograph-release length identification for each of the three fish species for all three tournament days.