What’s most important this week is going — going fishing, going hunting, just going into the outdoors.

There are some fishing hot spots. Try the MRGO and the marshes along the Intracoastal Waterway for bass, redfish and trout. Areas around Chef Pass have been producing trout and reds. Delacroix has been hit and miss, and the best bet is to look for birds.

Lake Pontchartrain is good, especially around the mouths and up into bayous and rivers. There’s a lot of shrimp in the Pontchartrain Basin.

The Hurricane Ida-affected areas off La. 1 south of Golden Meadow remains iffy, but waters in lower Terrebonne Parish continue to be productive for trout and an unusual run on bull redfish in the lakes. Here, too, the mouths of bayous are the best spots to try first.

Remember, too, it’s still duck season, and give hunters the time they need. Besides, the best action appears to be later in the day.

Freshwater spots are more predictable. Remember we’re far enough into the fall to be mindful of the high barometric pressure days after the passage of a cold front. It’s been odd that the best morningtime bass and sac-a-lait action is in the Verret Basin, while these two species appear to be more active in the afternoon in the Atchafalaya Spillway.

Look for schools of shad in these basins. Junior Southwest Bassmasters reporter Jim Breaux said spinnerbaits, vibrating jigs, crankbaits and punching grass with green pumpkin/purple D-bombs produced the best action in the club’s November tournament.

Back to the Pearl

Work on the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area’s Middle Pearl River boat launch is completed and the launch reopened. Improvements changed the launch from a one-lane gravel backdown to a two-lane concrete ramp.

Boats & licenses

Nov. 15 was a key date for implementing new legislative-approved fees for motorboat registration and commercial fishing fees.

For motorboats, the new fees are $35 for boats at or less than 15 feet, 11 inches; $57 for boats 16 feet to 25 feet, 11 inches long; $78 for boats 26 feet to 39 feet, 11 inches long; and $99 for boats 40 feet and longer.

Some licenses under the new commercial fishing fee structure allow online renewals at the LDWF website: wlf.la.gov under “Buy A License,” but some are not eligible and must be purchased in person or by mail. All commercial License applications are available at this LDWF website: wlf.louisiana.gov/page/forms.

And, all commercial, wholesale and retail licenses can be obtained at state headquarters in Baton Rouge, and LDWF offices in New Orleans (2045 Lakeshore Drive, Nov. 30-Dec. 2); Lafayette (200 Dulles Drive, Dec. 8-9); Lake Charles (1213 North Lakeshore Drive, Dec. 6-7); and, Bourg (468 Texas Gulf Rd., Dec. 14-16).

Need more information on new fees? Call Wildlife & Fisheries at (225) 765-2898.

Ducks

As expected, there were mixed reports from last weekend’s West Zone opener. There was more success of limits and near limits in the southwestern parishes than areas farther east. Folks with leases in the rice fields were disappointed by the lack of water, which meant ducks pushed farther into the coastal marshes.

Now, with the East Zone opening this weekend, state Waterfowl Study biologists were able to get into the northern parishes to report on ducks and geese. One young hunter in the Winnsboro area took five ducks in the Nov. 6 youth-only East Zone duck hunt.

The survey in the northeastern parishes turned up “abnormally dry conditions across the region,” and a somewhat low 34,000 duck count — the lowest since 2005’s 21,000 estimate. Gray ducks (21,000) made up most of the count.

In the northwestern parishes, drawdowns on Bistineau, Wallace, and Black lakes and overall dry conditions contributed to a “region-wide (count of) only 3,000 ducks,” down 52% from last year.

The survey also included geese. The northeast parishes were holding 74,000, up from 70,000 in 2020, but a 51% decline from the 2015-2019 average. The largest concentrations were seen in the ag fields east of Bonita & Mer Rouge, around Hebert and fields east of the Russell Sage WMA. Most were specklebellies.

Red snapper

Through Nov. 7, the private recreational red snapper landing estimates totaled 696,604 pounds of this year's 816,439-pound allocation. That’s an increase of only 1,889 pounds from the previous week. For complete season’ landing estimates, go to this LDWF website: wlf.louisiana.gov/page/red-snapper

Redfish Cup

Baton Rouge touring bass pro Derek Hudnall and redfish tournament veteran Nicky Savoie of Cut Off, finished second and third, respectively, in last weekend’s 10-team Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship off Port Aransas, Texas.

Bassmaster Elite pro Chris Zaldain teamed with Florida’s Ryan Rickard to win the three-day event with a total catch weighing 43 pounds, 4 ounces and the $50,000 payout.

Hudnall teamed with Ron Hueston of Naples, Florida, for a final-day, two-redfish 18-pound, 3-ounce catch (the heaviest single-day weight) and finished at 40-8. Savoie and his partner Texan Travis Land has two reds weighing 12-9 on the final day and gave up their second-day lead with a total of 40-4.