Jackson Landry

Young Baton Rouge angler Jackson Landry shows off two of the bass he caught to in the 15-18 year-old age group and overall title in last weekend's Junior Southwest Bassmasters two-day tournament on Toledo Bend. One of his bass, a 3.52-pounder, finished second in the big bass competition to the 3.69-pounder brought in by Lafayette's 11-14 year-old group angler Mason Milbert. With a 14-inch minimum size, the weigh-in was on the lean side, but lots of small fish were caught.

Wow! Uncle! We’ve had enough!

Darned little, if any, of our coastal fishing and hunting areas have been untouched by this year’s hurricane season after Zeta took care of what four other storms didn’t.

The possible exceptions are the Atchafalaya and Verret basins, and those two prime freshwater fishing spots went through their share of storm surge and heavy rains, which posed harm to the stocks of recreational and commercial species.

One report from Grand Isle — unreachable by road after a shrimp boat settled across La. 1 — said “it looked like a bomb went off.” Word is the beachside homes and camps sustained massive roof damage. Most camps on the north side of the island-long road were spared that kind of damage, but still took a hit. The island’s berm was breached in three places, so there’s lots of sand to move.

Extensive damage was reported from Dulac east to hard-hit Cocodrie then east into Lafourche Parish near Golden Meadow.

Leeville appears to have been wiped out.

From there you can move to Orleans, St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes and the moderate-to-extensive damage to homes, camps, marinas and launching spots and the supporting infrastructure.

It’s best now to let the repairs begin and take hold before we consider how we’ll enjoy the upcoming waterfowl seasons and what’s left of what were promising fall and winter catches from our coastal marshes.

Then we can pray for this to stop.

From last weekend

Daniel Bryant and Hunter Thibodeaux defended their Ascension Area Anglers Open bass title with a five-bass limit weighing 17.16 pounds last weekend. Neal Normand and Nathan Solar had the big bass, a 4.62-pounder.

“More of the (49) boats fished the (Atchafalaya) Spillway side, and it was won on that side,” AAA organizer Ryan Lavigne said. “Second place (Jeff McMorris and Beau Fitch, 16.84 pounds) came from the Lake (Verret) side. The top 10 seemed to be about an even split, spillway versus lake side.”

It took near a 3-pound average to earn a check, and that’s a solid catch for this time of year and after what these fish have through this year.

Lavigne said the best part is with the 49 entered teams along with the raffles, AAA raised $3,400 to help defray the expenses for our state’s qualifiers — Blake Sylvester and 18-year-old Connor Rushing — to compete in the BASS Nation Championship and donations to Anything Outdoors and Fishing for Tucker programs.

At Toledo Bend, the Junior Southwest Bassmasters had limited success for their two-day fall tournament last weekend.

“What a tough tournament. All bass had to be 14 inches minimum in length and plenty of short fish were caught,” JSB director Jim Breaux said. “More spotted bass were caught than largemouths.”

None of the 39 young anglers approached the five-bass each day limit, and Breaux said the most widely used lures were topwaters, spinnerbaits, Rat-L-Traps, crankbaits, worms and some drop shots.

For the birds

A reminder for next weekend’s opener of the duck and goose seasons: A basic hunting license is required for all hunters ages 16 and older, and you need federal and state waterfowl stamps, along with a Harvest Information Program certificate.

It’s that HIP certificate that’s caused all the bugaboo this year. It was supposed to be free. All you had to do was complete the questions about how many migratory birds/waterfowl you took the previous season and you got HIP checked off on your license.

There was a problem because some vendors didn’t process hunters correctly, and the only way you could get a HIP certificate was to go to state headquarters in Baton Rouge (where HIP was free) or go online and pay a $2 processing fee.

Wildlife and Fisheries worked out a deal to make the online process free, but the warning here is don’t leave home without it — not this season.

For HIP certification, go to the LDWF’s wedsite: www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/mandatory-harvest-information-program, and to get all hunting and fishing licenses: la-web.s3licensing.com/.

Pogeys on the agenda

Owing to the increasing consternation among coastal recreational fishermen, Wildlife and Fisheries Commission member Chad Courville has placed “a notice of intent to establish an exclusion zone for commercial menhaden fishing” on our state’s coast.

It’s with a degree of certainty that the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries staff will present statements that the commercial take of millions of pounds of menhaden — “pogeys” to most folks — taken from Louisiana waters poses no problem with forage for more highly prized recreational and commercial species.

Groups of recreational fishermen have encountered pogey boats working the barrier islands and shallow bays throughout the summer and have documented dead fish in the wakes of this commercial activity.

It promises to be a lively debate when the seven-member commission meets at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at LDWF headquarters on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge.

Other agenda items include:

  • The fiscal status of the agency;
  • Resolutions to confirm establishing the Raccourci Island Wildlife Management Area and the St. Tammany Refuge;
  • Announcing the winner of the 2021-2022 state duck stamp competition. The winner will be determined Wednesday by a panel of judges.

An extension

Commercial fishermen seeking assistance caused by hurricanes Laura and Delta — there’s $14.6 million in CARES Act money — have had the application deadline pushed from Oct. 26 to 11:59 p.m. Nov. 23.

Fishermen can call the Wildlife and Fisheries’ Program Development at (225) 765-3980 or (855) 262-1764 for more information.

Gulf Council news

South Louisianans Mike Frenette, Ben Graham and Rudy Valenciano have been appointed to three-year terms on the Red Drum Advisory Panel announced by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.

Signed by President Donald Trump, the council heard the “Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth” executive order, a move targeting improving “the competitiveness of our domestic seafood industry, put more Americans to work, and place more sustainably sourced and safe-to-eat seafood products on our families’ tables.”

Part of the executive order mandates regional councils to prioritize a list of recommendations to decrease the burdens on U.S. fisheries when it comes production “within sustainable fisheries.”