After more than four years of waiting for the waters to clear, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced late last week that some areas closed to commercial fishing and some recreational activities will reopen one-half hour before sunrise Monday.
These areas were closed in June 2010 when the BP-Deepwater Horizon well continued to spew oil into the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast. Not all the waters involved in the four-year-long closure will be re-opened, however.
According to the LDWF, these areas will open “pursuant to agreements by state and federal officials for re-opening waters closed as a result of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. These areas will also be re-opened to all recreational fishing.”
These areas include:
Part of the upper Barataria Basin near Bay Jimmy and Bay Batiste, except waters within 100 yards of the shoreline, an area considered to be a “buffer” zone;
All waters within the Birdsfoot Delta of the Mississippi River;
Waters surrounding the Grand Terre Islands, except waters within a one-quarter mile seaward from the Gulf-facing shoreline, again another “buffer” zone;
And, the waters seaward between Elmer’s Island and Fourchon beaches, except another “buffer” zone extending a one-quarter mile seaward from the Gulf-facing shoreline.
Restrictions in the buffer zones do not apply to recreational fishermen taking finfish with a rod and reel.
LDWF managers continue to ask for reports of oil, tarballs or tar mats along the Louisiana coast. Reports should be phoned to the National Response Center at (800) 424-8802 and to the Louisiana State Police at (877) 925-6595.
Detailed maps can be found on the LDWF website: www.wlf.louisiana.gov/oilspill.
Now that freshwater fishermen are tasting the golden-fried bream, sac-a-lait and catfish that a falling Atchafalaya Spillway bring to south Louisiana tables as the Atchafalaya River falls to a summer low, there’s talk about ducks, geese and hunting around the state.
Even amidst the hustle and bustle at the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo, there was a couple of guys wanting to talk about the upcoming season.
Thursday’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting will settle on the dates for the state’s three waterfowl zones, and give us snipe hunting dates and the other days when we’ll be able to take rails and gallinules.
If you want to get a head start on the Sept. 13-28 special teal season, federal and state waterfowl stamps are available at state license vendors and the LDWF state office in Baton Rouge. While you’re getting those stamps, remember you need no-fee HIP certification to hunt all migratory birds and waterfowl — including doves. Federal Waterfowl stamps also are available at U.S. post offices.
While on the subject of duck stamps, know that the U.S. House’s Natural Resources Committee’s passed by voice vote a move to raise the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp — duck stamps — from the current $15 to $25.
The Federal Duck Stamp Act of 2014 now moves to the House floor for a vote.
Ducks Unlimited’s reaction praised this first step. Included in the bill are provisions that will use the additional monies to fund conservation easements paid to private landowners who dedicate lands to waterfowl habitat.
If passed, it will be the first increase in duck stamp fees since 1991, and DU reported the price of land in easement has tripled during the intervening two decades.
Rep. John Fleming, R-Louisiana, sponsored the bill and headed the subcommittee that pushed the bill to the full committee.
The act is listed “HR 5069,” and had Congressmen Ron Kind, D-Wisconsin.; Jason Smith, R-Missouri; and, Rob Wittman, R-Virginia listed as cosponsors.
New for newcomers
When Act 429 of the 2014 Legislative Session became law Friday, it meant newcomers to the state will have to wait only six months to be eligible for resident hunting and recreational fishing licenses.
Before the bill was signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, newcomers had to establish their residency for one year to be eligible for the reduced license fees.
Three teams from state colleges finished among the top-15 schools in last week’s FLW College Fishing Southern Conference tournament on Lake Dardanelle near Russellville, Arkansas.
The LSU-Shreveport team of J.L. Sepulvado of Zwolle and Jared Rascoe of Stonewall, finished third with a a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 6 ounces, and tied with the fourth-place team of West Monroe anglers Blake Alford and Tyler Stewart, Louisiana-Monroe students, who brought the same weight. The LSU-S team had a heavier bass to break the tie. Both teams earned $500.
The LSU team of Morganza anglers Brennan Vosburg and Dane Lecoq finished 11th in the 60-team field with an 8-3 weight.
Jonny Schultz and Sam Horn from the University of Arkansas won with a 19-5 stringer.
Agents need help
LDWF Enforcement Division agents are asking the public to help identify a yellow-and-white ski boat with a black stripe down its side that was involved in a hit-and-run boating accident July 26 on the Diversion Canal in Livingston Parish.
The incident reportedly happened about 8:30 p.m. when the unidentified boat allegedly was speeding through a no-wake zone and hit another boat. The three passengers in the latter boat reportedly were treated for minor injuries and released.
Agents said the unidentified boat “should have substantial damage to the hull.”
Information can be called into the LDWF’s Operation Game Thief hotline (800) 442-2511.
Hunting dates online
Need to know exact dates to set time off during the hunting season, or when you can plan hunts when the youngsters have school holidays?
The 2014-15 Louisiana Hunting Regulations pamphlet was posted online to the LDWF website: www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/regulations.
The pamphlet will be at license vendors, sporting goods stores and LDWF offices in the next week, but the website has all the information printed in the pamphlet including next spring turkey hunting dates and areas.