With lots of youngsters on holiday break, it’s time to get them on the water — or near enough to catch a fish — or in the fields chasing our wild turkeys.
It’s fishing that will stir most of the activity, and, thank goodness, the rain is gone, at least for a handful of days, and the sun, finally, is getting a chance to warm our waters.
This weather pattern will hold through Tuesday morning. After that, the barometric pressure will begin to fall, and there’s a 25% chance of rain for most of the rest of the week in the Baton Rouge area.
With afternoon temperatures getting into the 80s and constant southerly winds (10-15 mph through Thursday), the marshes should be filling with cleaner water than what we’ve been finding the past two months.
Now that we’ve pushed through March’s full moon, and with warmer waters combined with the push of water (southeast winds), brown shrimp should move into the estuaries in greater numbers, and we should begin to find speckled trout moving from the marshes into the larger bays.
The big talk along the coast these days deals with solid redfish catches. Topwater lures are providing heart-stopping action along with those heavy-wire spinnerbaits and weightless jerk worms like Sinkos and other soft plastics.
If you’re not into artificials, try market shrimp or a live minnow under a cork.
The rising water in the marshes is pushing redfish close to the marsh edges, so working lures close to the grassy edges and out around grass beds usually is the way to catch reds. Remember, we have a 16-inch minimum size limit with only one red measuring more than 27 inches long in the five-reds-per-day creel limit.
Reports late last week were a few speckled trout showed up in the MRGO/Intracoastal Waterway area in St. Bernard and eastern Orleans parishes, and from clearer water places in lower Terrebonne Parish. Haven’t heard of trout being taken in the coastal bays or along the beaches.
The sac-a-lait run continues in impoundments throughout the state, in the Florida Parishes rivers and bayous — but not in the East Pearl yet — and in the Verret Basin. Shiners under a cork works, but so do a variety of tube jigs under a cork. The best tube colors appear to be black/chartreuse, blue/chartreuse and brown/orange, the latter good only when you see small crawfish in the grass or on brush tops.
Bass are another story. Rains and the cold front that blew through to the coast has put bass on hold. Rising water throughout the Atchafalaya Basin put the brakes on catches, and catches across the south-central and southeastern parishes aren't much better.
The down-the-river areas near Venice are off the list because of the rising Mississippi River.
Toledo Bend, Lake D’Arbonne and Caney Creek are producing good bass action, and the oxbows off the Red River are holding fish, too, but that’s only if you want to make a road trip.
The latest from the National Weather Service is that the of rain in Tennessee and the lower Ohio Valley means all locations on the lower Ohio and lower Mississippi Rivers have crested, “but flooding will continue on the lower Mississippi River through most of April.”
That leaves ponds
If you know someone with a decent-sized pond, then this will be your go-to spot. Get some nightcrawlers, No. 8 long-shank hooks, a couple of corks and a light-action rod and let the kids have a ball catching bluegill. Bass and sac-a-lait are eating these worms, too.
Water in ponds generally heats faster than big lakes, bayous and rivers, and several folks have mentioned how the sunfishes have moved to the banks during the past week.
A big help
The last week of March came news from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration about a new coastal condition forecast model for the northern Gulf of Mexico, a system NOAA said, “provides continuous quality-controlled data on water levels, currents, water temperature and salinity out to 72 hours.”
“The Gulf model improves the safety of marine navigation in an area vital to the safe movement of energy resources and other shipping,” acting director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service Nicole LeBoeuf said in the release.
It should help fishermen prepare for their weekend trips, especially when it comes to getting ready for the upcoming summer offshore excursions.
NOAA staff said the northern Gulf model, “combines three models into one and extends the model to include coverage up the Mississippi River to Baton Rouge, Lake Pontchartrain and Bartaria Bay in Louisiana, and along the Corpus Christi waterways of Texas, as well as south to the Mexico border. The seaports covered by this model are some of the busiest in the nation in terms of tonnage, energy, value and other measures.”
Citing family matters, Tyler Carrier, the Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Youngsville, announced he’s leaving the series for the rest of the year.
“Right now, I just need to be there for the family more than anything,” Carriere said. “I’ve tried to make it work for the last few events and it just hasn’t worked.”
Carriere was in his fifth year on the Elite Series.
New to the LWFC
Gene Reynolds attended his first Wildlife and Fisheries Commission on Thursday. He replaced Chad Courville on the seven-person panel.
Reynolds, of Dubberly, is a retired educator, a former District 10 state representative, and a member of the Coastal Conservation Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, Minden Lions Club, Minden Civitans and Louisiana Retired Teachers Association.
New LWFF prez
Longtime conservationist Jeffery Svendson Sr. has been elected Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation’s president replacing Christopher Kinsey, who completed his two-year term in February.
Svendson is the owner of Advanced Logistics in Lafayette and was the LWFF’s vice president during the past two years.
Paying the piper
Wyatt Hymel of Paulina is paying for the day he baited a field for doves.
Earlier this month, Hymel was sentenced by Judge Karen Roby to pay a $1,500 fine, and meted out a two-year suspension of hunting privileges, a two-year prohibition on setting foot on any national wildlife refuge and placed him on two years of probation.
The conviction comes after a 2019 case made by LDWF Enforcement Division agents who were patrolling near Convent on the opening day of dove season in 2019. The agents found the field baited and “learned the field was baited by Hymel prior to the dove hunt." Hymel admitted to placing bait for the purpose of attracting doves.
Coming in June
The Greater Lafourche Port Commission, the folks who run Port Fourchon, are nearing completion on what it calls a Coastal Wetlands Park, a project that includes a kayak launch, parking lot and wharf to link this area to the Flotation Canal.
Avid kayaker Tim Osborn said the park will be a boon for small-boat recreational fishers and also serve as an educational area to study Louisiana’s marshlands environs as early as June.
The commission’s statement read: “We are now awaiting word on a Land, Water & Conservation Fund grant (National Park Service). This grant opportunity was approved by the state and will hopefully pave the way for the construction of a two-level educational orientation hub and some trail/boardwalk area in the coming months once it receives the endorsement of those on the federal level with the NPS. On the elevated portion of the orientation hub, there will be the same self-focusing viewfinders that are currently located at the public boat launch.”