Amidst the best run on speckled trout in three years, it’s time to talk about birds and the end of one season and what’s about to happen to another.
First things first: Trout appear to be biting everywhere from Lake Pontchartrain to the Grand Isle area and especially over the lower reaches of Terrebonne Parish.
An armada of boats invaded the bridges spanning Pontchartrain’s north and south shores. The trestles are a hot spot and, even Friday ahead of a glorious weather weekend, it looked like you had to take a number and wait on a spot on this near five-mile long railroad bridge.
Behind Grand Isle, almost anything that can hold trout is holding trout, and structures and reefs in lakes Pelto and Barre are hot spots.
Trout are taking everything from live shrimp to soft plastics. Put shrimp under a cork, but work the plastics, and you can go with double rigs, on a jighead, up to a half-ounce in Pontchartrain, and quarter-ounce in the other locations.
Now for the birds
The spring turkey season ended last Sunday. Wildlife and Fisheries biologist and State Study leader Jimmy Stafford said first indications are that 2015 was better for hunters than 2014.
“The (harvest) numbers are up, but I’m disappointed that they were not up more,” Stafford said. “One reason is that we had so many rain-out days. It was a wet April. I heard somewhere that it was the fourth-wettest April on record, and a lot of the rain came on weekends when most of our hunters can go.”
Still, Stafford said, the season got off to a terrific start, that birds were gobbling for the late March opening and that meant lots of early hunter success.
Stafford was one: “It took all of five minutes for me to get my first gobbler. I guess I found a very aggressive bird. He flew down when it was still dark and ran right to me.
“That doesn’t happen every day,” he said through a chuckle.
Report those tags
Staffford said the final numbers won’t be in for a couple of weeks, when Wildlife and Fisheries staffers collect the tagging data.
“The count we have the week after the season is preliminary and hunters still have seven days after taking a gobbler to report using their tag,” Stafford said. “Right now it looks like we have a couple hundred more birds this year than last.
“Then, we have to quantify what was reported, because we know what was reported and what was killed are two different numbers.”
The institution of using tags for turkey hunters was supposed to narrow that reporting vs. killed gap. And Stafford said hunters need to know reporting tags and kills, over and above the fact that it’s a stage regulation, can help hunters with their next seasons.
“When hunters report tags, it helps us know what’s going on in each parish,” he said. “It helps us know which areas are on the decline (by hunter effort, not by total kills). It helps us looks are areas with a critical eye in Areas A, B and C.”
Each area has different lengths: A with five weekends, B with four and C with three weekends.
“Reporting tags help us know if an area can be moved from a C to a B or encourage us to move a B to an A, or maybe move an area down to help the (turkey) population,” Stafford said.
“It also gives us a look at a number of jakes (juvenile males) taken in a location, because the number of jakes indicated good reproduction the previous year and tells us that area should have a good adult harvest the next year. A low jakes harvest tells us the opposite,” he said.
Tags can be reported on the LDWF website: www.wlf.louisiana.gov.
For duck hunters
A survey went out last week to 6,000 randomly selected Louisiana waterfowl hunters, and State Waterfowl Study leader Larry Reynolds urged 3,000 who received the emailed survey take no more than five minutes to return the survey, and that the 3,000 who received the printed survey in the mail return them as soon as possible.
LDWF partnered with LSU’s School of Renewable Natural Resources to ask ducks and goose hunters for answers about their hunting activity, reactions to the recent season, zones and zone boundaries, possible new zone boundaries, and attitudes on hunting policies.
Hunters who did not receive either survey can go to the LDWF’s website (www.wlk.louisiana.gov) and complete the survey by June 15. Hunters must be at least 16.
“The more information we get, the better was can determine the seasons and zones for our hunters,” Reynolds said. “Response rates are always a concern, especially when they fall as low as the 17 percent we received from the 2012 random mail-out survey.”
Reynolds said the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, through changes recommended by the LDWF staff, changed the number and boundaries of waterfowl hunting zones in 2012 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) offered expanded zones and splits options.
The USFWS required the state to “provide data to evaluate hunter satisfaction with those zone changes and begin consideration of potential changes in the future. … This survey offers an excellent opportunity for all waterfowl hunters to provide input into waterfowl management and hunting regulation decisions,” Reynolds said.