Oh boy! It’s blast-and-cast time.
Yep, come Saturday, there’s every reason to believe you will find late-morning fishermen clad in camo.
And it’s not because they want to sneak up on redfish, flounder and, hopefully, the first speckled trout to venture into the coastal marshes.
The special September teal season opens its 16-day run Saturday, and Mother Nature is providing a kick-start to the season, something Louisiana hunters didn’t enjoy during last year’s teal season.
A cold front, although not much of one, is scheduled to move into the coastal area early Friday and bring 10-15 knot north-northeast winds and a morning low in the upper 60s. Afternoon highs Friday are predicted in the middle-80s, a big change from the mid-90s. Look for afternoon thunderstorms Friday and Saturday with clear skies Sunday.
The change in winds likely will help push some teal into the state. The bonus comes when north winds push water from marsh ponds and trigger a redfish feeding spree in and around runouts. That’s where the “blast” for ducks and “cast” for redfish makes this season unique for south Louisiana outdoorsmen.
Any change from last year’s unusually slow teal season is welcomed news for State Waterfowl Study leader Larry Reynolds, who said 2013’s September hunts were, in a word, “slow.”
“I allowed myself to be optimistic last year. Spirits among duck hunters were high. We increased the (daily) teal limit from four to six per day, and habitat in the southwest and southeast marshes was improved and Catahoula Lake was ready to hold ducks,” Reynolds said. “We didn’t have (Hurricane) Isaac to deal with last year.
“And there was a high population count and the ponds count was up on the breeding grounds. There was every reason to be optimistic.”
So, what happened?
“We had the lowest September (teal) survey on record,” Reynolds said. “Then we had the lowest coastal survey on record for the month of November. What a bummer.”
Maybe this change in weather will help make 2014 better. Cold fronts already have swept through the central Canadian provinces, and the front due in here later this week is the same one that’s predicted to bring a 49-degree high Wednesday and a 35-degree low Thursday to Glasgow, Montana, a spot in eastern Montana that produces lots of teal for Mississippi Flyway hunters.
Like last year, May’s breeding and pond counts are higher than the previous year. Even better is that the 49.2 million ducks in that combined U.S. and Canadian survey is the highest since 1955.
The best news for the 14-state Mississippi Flyway hunters — Louisiana is the flyway’s southern terminus — is that the survey showed a 39-percent increase in breeding populations in key areas that supplies ducks to this flyway. Southern Manitoba is in Canada’s “Prairie Pothole Region,” that also includes the province of Saskatchewan.
Virtually all breeding areas in Canada had wet spring conditions.
In a Ducks Unlimited story released last week, DU Canada biologist Mark Francis reported, “Frequent rains improved conditions for brood-rearing waterfowl in high-priority pothole areas. Although nesting was delayed due to the late arrival of spring, it was well underway by the end of May. There appears to have been a good initial hatch, but brood sizes are slightly smaller than average, which may be a result of cool, rainy conditions in June. Continued observations ... also suggest that there has been a strong renesting effort. Survival of late broods should be excellent due to the abundance of inundated wetlands on the landscape.”
Hunters are reminded that this special statewide season is restricted to the take bluewing, greenwing and cinnamon teal only, and to know that mottled ducks, tree ducks and wood ducks could be flying with the teal in the Louisiana marshes.
Hunters 16 and older need a federal waterfowl stamp, and should check state regulations to find out if they need a state basic hunting license and a state waterfowl stamp. All hunters 16 and older need to have a no-fee federal HIP certificate to take all migratory birds and migratory waterfowl.