The rain has stopped! Thank the Lord!
For now, it’s time to talk about the three Rs, and, no, this is not a refresher course in elementary education.
Rain. Runoff. Red. As in red snapper.
Let’s take first things first, rain and runoff.
Just when you think we’ve had enough tragedy in the latest five-year run of floods, hurricanes, torrential rain, tornadoes and hail — and a pandemic thrown into the mix — families are facing the loss of loved ones from the eruption of the storm off our coast last week that sank the Seacor Power lift boat. It all the more points to staying safe amidst this latest blow. Don’t do anything foolish. Flood waters will continue to be a problem for the next several days.
- False River is closed to outboard motor traffic. You can use electric trolling motors from the launches, but don’t crank the big engine. Water is over the bulkheads in most places, and runoff on both ends of this oxbow lake will drive water levels higher.
- CCA Louisiana postponed its inaugural Casting for the Coast bass tournament and rescheduled it for Sept. 18.
- The No Wake signs are posted along the entire reach of the Verret Basin, and if you think the high water in and around Pierre Part, Shell Beach, Four Mile Bayou and the Stephensville area is going to recede quickly, then think about last spring when the No Wake posting lingered for a little more than a month.
With water rising throughout this basin, it’s likely landings will be closed maybe as early as Monday.
- The Florida Parishes rivers, bayous and streams will run high and muddy for most of this week and probably linger into next week.
- Grand Isle and waters east and west of our state’s only inhabited barrier island were hit hard last week. The island flooded, all power was lost and at or near hurricane force winds damaged businesses, homes and camps across the island and farther up La. 1 to The Fourchon.
The folks at Port Fourchon clocked winds at more than 100 miles per hour, a force that downed utility poles and overturned an 18-wheeler on the elevated portion of La. 1 between Leeville and Fourchon.
And, on Grand Isle, Wildlife and Fisheries staff said the Michael Voisin Oyster Hatchery “sustained some minor damage due to the severe weather … oyster larvae production at the hatchery will be delayed until repairs can be made and utility services restored.”
- Heavy winds and the volume of rain likely will put speckled trout and redfish off their feeding patterns for several days. Winds and rising water break up schools of baitfish and pods of shrimp, and we can expect to find muddy water conditions from Lake Borgne west across the mouth of the continually high Mississippi River to Barataria and Terrebonne areas.
Making it clear
It’s time to let these flooded and storm-ravaged areas heal, and to give those who need to make repairs the chance to make them without outside interference.
Stay off the water and, unless you need to be there, stay away from the flooded roadways and waterways.
This is no time for sightseeing.
About the only good news last week came from the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.
But, it’s not all good news.
After the Great Red Snapper Count released its findings last October showing nearly three times the red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico than had been estimated by federal biologists, the council, according to its news release, “chose to increase the 2021 red snapper overfishing limit to 25,600,000 pounds whole weight, and the 2021 acceptable biological catch to 15,400,000 pounds whole weight, as recommended by the Scientific and Statistical Committee.”
Remember the Great Red Snapper Count came from a Congressional push to fund a study independent of years of federal red snapper population surveys.
And the count’s pronouncement of more than 100 million red snapper in the Gulf — compared to the slightly more than 30 million from the federal folks — got caught up again in the Department of Commerce roadblocks to what should have been an immediate increase in recreational limits.
The result is as the council stated, to recommend, “NOAA Fisheries delay implementation of this framework action until January 1, 2023. The Council will submit the proposed changes to the Secretary of Commerce for approval and implementation as soon as practicable.”
Rep. Garret Graves, R-Louisiana, who has championed the red snapper issue across our country for more than five years, hailed the council’s vote as a decisive first step in increasing recreational catch limits.
Graves wrote, “The Gulf Council decision today is absolutely the right one and shows that they realize that it would be virtually impossible to explain to the public how in the world you could have the assessment that just came out — the latest assessment using the best science – showing that there is triple the Red Snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, then in the same breath go and cut the amount of fishing days available to our recreational fishers. I’m glad that they listened to the message of our letter urging them toward this correct and defendable resource management decision.”
The decision gives the NOAA Fisheries folks slightly more than one year to come up with a viable plan to add to the recreational take of red snapper from the Gulf of Mexico. A plan must be put to the council in late 2022 to ratify a plan to increase the take of this species so that two years from now recreational fishermen can utilize this expanded red snapper population.