Forrest Gump can add fishing to his mama’s adage about life and chocolates, “You never know what you’re going to get.”
Offshore fishing is like that: Drop a baited hook off the Louisiana coast and, well, you just never know what you’re going to take that offering.
Ask Shannon Ross. He was doing his summertime thing a week ago Saturday in his 24-foot Offshore Pathfinder, fishing the platforms south of Belle Pass — at the all-too-familiar “Triple Rig” — and whacking mangrove snapper.
“We had 16 in the boat real quick and spent the last hour trying to catch the last four for our (10-fish-per-person) limit,” the die-hard Watson angler said.
One mangrove in that last one-hour effort turned out to be a stunner.
“I reeled the fish, maybe a 4- or 5-pounder, and it was white. I thought I had an albino,” Ross said.
That prompted several phone calls Monday.
“I had never seen a mangrove that color. All the other mangrove were what we usually see are a deep red and this fish was not the same,” Ross said.
It was a stunner to the state’s Marine Fisheries Section biologists, too.
Lightly colored fish, like the one Ross caught, seldom survive in the Gulf of Mexico, because any fish so different usually gets eaten before they get much past the juvenile stage of their life.
“I saw a photo of the fish,” Wildlife and Fisheries’ biologist Harry Blanchet said, “and it’s not an albino. Those are way too rare in marine fish. We see white marine mammals, like porpoises, but those species are born at a healthy size and have the protection of their mothers, and aren’t hatched out at 2 millimeters in size like a mangrove snapper. An albino has no pigmentation, and this fish had some color.”
Blanchet said he’s not a “mangrove expert” but explained what we call mangrove snapper are known in other places as “gray” snapper, and mangroves have a wide range in coloration.
“Still,” Blanchet said, “this is a very interesting fish, very interesting.”
These ladies did it
Braving the rough seas brought into the western Gulf by Tropical “Bill,” a storm that pushed into the Texas coast, the women competing in Louisiana Slam 2015 donned slicker suits and headed from Venice for the mid-June International Women’s Fishing Association tournament.
Their targets were speckled trout, redfish, flounder and largemouth bass, a combination few anglers, save those working the mouth of the Mississippi River, have in North America.
Julie Hebert reported the women and their guides brought in 542 reds, 335 trout, 12 flounder and 11 bass, and that Texas fisher Ellen Matthews, a new IWFA member, took home the Top Overall Angler trophy and the Newcomer’s Award.
Betsy Bullard of Florida and Louisiana’s own Susan Villere finished second and third, and the daily high-point anglers were Jenny Goodell, Matthews and Bullard.
Other winners were Merrily Simmons (First Fish Caught), Bullard (Last Fish Caught) and Villere for her “Most Spots” redfish that had 14 “spots.” Goodell earned the Louisiana Slam trophy after catching a red, a trout and a flounder in a single day twice.
Julie Brown, Simmons, Matthews and Poppy Brownlee finished first in the Team Award with Bullard, Villere, Goodell and Mary Floyd taking second, and Hebert, Amy Knowles, Melissa Littlewood and Lin Dockendorff teaming to take third.
Cade Thomas earned the Top Captain Award.
The event raised $3,000 for the “In Memory of Jean Geddes” scholarship fund.
IWFA information can be found on its website: www.iwfa.org.
New Port Eads rules
New catch-and-keep rules for fishermen staying overnight at Port Eads Marina are in effect after the state Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approved regualtions that allow fishermen to retain a three-day limit.
The new regulations include provisions that require possession of all current recreational fishing licenses, receipts indicating an overnight stay at Port Eads, inspection of catch by LDWF staff at the marina to ensure catch meets creel and size limits, cleaning the catch, tagging cleaned fish with certification tags provided by the LDWF agent, matching tagged bags with individual anglers, and rules that prohibit fishing on a boat transporting bags of certified catch and that fishermen cannot transport fish taken by another person.
The advisory, issued last week, notes that when LDWF certifying agents are not at the marina, fishermen must follow the same state on-the-water possession limits as other areas in Louisiana.
For more information on Port Eads rules and a list of dates when LDWF certifying agents will be at the marina, go to website: www.fishla.org/port-eads-marina-regulations.
Just a reminder
All state-issued hunting and fishing licenses expire Tuesday. The LDWF’s new E-licenses are available on the agency’s website: www.wlf.la.gov, then select the E-license option.
Season dates and bag limits for teal, dove, rails, gallinules and woodcock seasons, and possible dates for the 2015-2016 waterfowl season top the agenda for Thursday’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting in Baton Rouge.
Other items include an update on the spring inshore shrimp season, a move to allow LDWF secretary Robert Barham to open the fall inshore season, and a presentation on effects of MRGO tidal flow Lake Pontchartrain and its estuaries.
Tuesday is the last day for boys and girls 15 and younger to submit entries for the annual Youth Hunter of the Year and Youth Angler of the Year contests.
There are separate awards for boys and girls in both contests. Hunters can call David Moreland (225) 978-6552.
Anglers can call Wendy Billiot (985) 851-7578.