Public comment on the separation of the Gulf of Mexico recreational red snapper take between private and for-hire sectors will be taken Thursday beginning at 6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn-Westbank, 275 Whitney Ave. in Gretna.
When the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council approved the move to divide the recreational catch in 2015, this “sector separation” move — on the books as Reef Fish Amendment 40 — carried a three-year sunset provision, a plan that would eliminate this division of the recreational catch in three years.
Now, sector separation proponents want to remove the sunset provision and make it a permanent rule in the overall Gulf of Mexico red snapper management scheme.
As Amendment 40 stands today, “private” recreational anglers will have a nine-day season beginning June 1 in federal waters off the five Gulf states.
That same day, the Gulf-wide for-hire/charterboat operations will have a 46-day season.
In short, the sunset proviso was made part of Amendment 40 to give federal, state and other agency marine biologists and fisheries managers a chance to determine the effects of dividing the recreational catch along the aforementioned lines.
Proponents have stated there is no reason for the sunset provision to remain in effect because for-hire operations should not be held to the same regulations, namely season limitations, as the private recreational anglers.
The Coastal Conservation Association has filed suit to overturn Amendment 40, citing it violates the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the country’s major fisheries management law. CCA contends the act stipulates a specific fishery can be divided only into recreational and commercial sectors, and does not allow for a further subdivision of user groups.
The hot spots
Now that the forecast calls for morning lows in the lower-70s and afternoon highs in the lower-90s, south Louisiana anglers can welcome summer to a four-month forecast and include the possibilities of afternoon thunderstorms.
And now with the inshore shrimp season underway, fishermen can also include finding water stirred up in the inland bays and lakes.
That’s not a bad situation, if only because there are shrimp working in the state’s inside waters, which means laughing gulls hovering over shrimp can point the ways to finding hungry trout feeding under the rafts of larger brown shrimp making their migration to the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
For the most part, Central Coast speckled trout catches are trending upward. From waters east of Grand Isle west through the Fourchon, Cocodrie and over into the Bayou Dularge area, trout have been taking a variety of soft-plastic lures, and, on the days when the surf’s rollers are one foot or less rolling into the barrier islands and reefs, topwaters like She Dogs, Top Dogs and Zara Spooks are taking trout.
Soft plastics? Try going to darker colors in the very early morning, something like green/black and avocado/red glitter, then switching to blue moon/chartreuse, solid chartreuse/silver glitter and silver or gold glittered baits with a pinkish or purplish hue after the sun gets higher in the sky.
And there’s always live shrimp, which will outfish live croaker during the weeks when the brown shrimp are heavy in the inland waters.
In freshwater, the Verret Basin continues to produce catfish and bluegills. And topwaters and crankbaits are attracting strikes from bass along deeper structure in Belle River and off and in the Intracoastal Waterway in the Stephensville area. Topwaters are working, too, in Henderson Lake.
For the weekend expect 10-15 knot southeast winds with 1-2 foot seas east of the Mississippi River with slightly rougher Central Coast conditions, but calmer conditions Sunday on east winds. Look for 2-4 footers offshore.
The major rivers continue to run high, but are falling, and all the Florida Parishes rivers are falling, including the Pearl River, where spinnerbaits and square-billed crankbaits are working on bass and crickets under a cork are taking a variety of panfish.
Don’t do this
“Double tripping” is a phrase state Enforcement Division agents more often use when it comes to writing fishing citations. It means catching a limit of any species, off-loading the catch at a camp or home, then returning for a second limit.
On Saturday agent cited four folks in Robinson Canal between Chauvin and Cocodrie for doing that while cast-netting for shrimp.
Before the state inshore shrimp season began Monday, state regs limit a 50-pound daily catch for recreational shrimpers and, acting on a complaint, found the four with more than 300 pounds of freshly caught shrimp.