By now anyone who wanted to know knows about the new red snapper season.
Wednesday’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announcement allows offshore recreational fishermen to chase red snapper every day with a new four-fish-per-day limit.
It’s a season that will run until LDWF biologists and fisheries managers, using the LA Creel data-collection system, determine our state has landed somewhere close to the 244,692 pounds remaining in Louisiana’s 2021 allotment.
Louisiana’s recreational offshore anglers will be allowed to catch red snapper under new guidelines issued Wednesday by the Department of Wild…
That’s going to take a lot of effort: Hurricane Ida has left the top recreational red snapper-producing places like Venice, Grand Isle, The Fourchon and Cocodrie in shambles. Marinas and private launching areas are months away from the physical structures needed to being able to handle fishing trips, not to mention the fuel, ice and other items most recreationals need to get offshore.
Yet, this move was necessary, and LWDF secretary Jack Montoucet knew it. Acting on the advice of staff biologists — it’s certain he consulted Wildlife and Fisheries Commission members — Montoucet signed off of this new plan to give his state’s anglers the most chances to catch the remaining pounds in the annual allotment.
Last week’s outdoor notebook touched on the reason why, and it bears repeating.
If any state among the five Gulf states does not take its annual allotment, those uncaught pounds goes into a pool to be shared by all the five states in the next year’s allotment. It’s sure Louisiana anglers and some of the commission members made sure the LDWF’s top brass know those red snapper belong to our state’s fishermen.
Now, what’s going to be interesting is how the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approaches the 2022 private recreational red snapper season. With what appeared to be maximum effort in the 13 weekend seasons this year, we were able to catch 587,801 pounds (70%) of this year’s 832,493-pound allotment.
Sure, Ida put fishing on hold on August’s last weekend, on the four-day (Friday through Monday) Labor Day weekend and on any weekend since.
Even adding in those lost weekends, then using catch data from previous years, it certainly appears Louisiana would have come up a minimum of 120,000 pounds shy of 2021’s allotment.
Moutoucet was right on track in Wednesday’s announcement: “Providing this opportunity will help bring business back to our marinas, docks, and the charter fishing industry, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Opening this season now also allows anglers the ability to harvest amberjack and red snapper simultaneously as the recreational greater amberjack season is scheduled to run through October.”
Checked out the Mississippi River lately?
All that said, the state’s long-standing two-fish-per-day limit should be under review next year.
For years, offshore fishermen have voiced mild displeasure about that daily limit. The objection is two red snapper is hardly worth the effort and expense, especially when greater amberjack and gray triggerfish are closed for most of the summer.
When Wildlife and Fisheries marine fisheries biologists and managers finish adding up this season’s red snapper catch, maybe they could take time to figure out what a three-fish limit would do in next year’s Friday-through-Sunday seasons.
Even after this new wide-open, four-fish season, it’s a pretty good bet Louisiana will have more than 832,493 pounds in 2022. It’s also a pretty good bet that our coastal launching sites and marinas will be a less than capacity next year. Ida’s devastation is too great to expect anything close to full recovery by next snapper season.
This is a discussion that needs to be undertaken sooner, not later.
And, for the years of wrangling over recreational red snapper fishing at federal, regional and state levels, an increase in a daily limit would be welcomed with open arms.
Lest we forget
Through August and into this month, many families need our prayers, first the Marines and a Navy corpsman killed serving our country.
Then there are fond memories of dear friends Jimmie Lynch, Tip Pace, Richard Wagley and Lonnie Stanley.
Jimmie is a long-ago friend from high school days, a good football player and a man who suffered far too much in his last years.
Tip owned Feliciana Seafood, a man with a big smile and a bigger heart. He was among the first to step up when Hunters for the Hungry asked for processors to provide venison to feed the needy from hunters’ donations.
Richard was among the most avid outdoorsmen in south Louisiana, and the beauty of this man was he shared so much of his outdoor adventures with young folks.
Lonnie’s legacy will live longer than the prowess he showed on lakes and rivers across our country. His bass lures will bear his name for many years.
These men will be missed, mightily missed.