While much of the country’s fishing community, including a heavy Louisiana contingent, are gathered in Orlando, Florida, for the annual ICAST Show — our nation’s biggest fishing-trade event — most of Louisiana is gearing up for what could be a big fishing weekend.

Word from near every corner of the state, freshwater and saltwater alike, is “Go,” and with daytime temperatures hovering in the 90s, word is “Go early.”

True, there’s afternoon thunderstorms predicted for most every day, but “know before you go,” is the best advice and take time to check the skies periodically to make sure you have enough time to run from the storms.

Action is good most everywhere. Sure you’ll have to scrounge around to make a healthy catch of speckled trout, but it’s not like it was three weeks ago when trout were hard to find. Live bait is best and there are enough bait shops with live shrimp (now with most of the state’s inshore waters closed to shrimping) and croaker to serve most anglers.

Repeating last week’s advice: It’s best when you can catch your bait. Cocahoe minnows appear to be rebounding from the perceived hit these baitfish took from the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, and there are enough pogeys and finger mullet around to warrant having a cast net in your fishing arsenal.

Platforms and reefs appear to be the most productive trout locations east and west of the Mississippi River, and live bait and topwaters are working along the beaches on rising tides.

One of the best “inside” locations is the MRGO, and the Atchafalaya Basin continues to be the top freshwater area for bass, sac-a-lait, bluegill and catfish.

Weekend conditions

  • National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Forecasts: nws.noaa.gov. Find the “Coastal/Great Lakes Forecasts by Zones – Gulf – New Orleans, La.” and a map with 13 different nearshore, offshore and Lake Pontchartrain wind and waves predictions for the next five days.
  • Weather Underground: wunderground.com. Current conditions, a 10-day forecast, and hour-by-hour predicted temperatures, winds, precipitation and barometric pressure.
  • National Weather Service’s River Forecast Center: water.weather.gov for river stages.

Red snapper

Now that the seven-day-a-week snapper season is over, and a Friday-through-Sunday (weekends only) season begins Friday, anglers must remember they need to carry the state’s Recreational Offshore Landing Permit (ROLP) with an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) endorsement to catch and keep red snapper during this special red snapper season.

The update from the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries puts to bed the warnings some in the agency had when the EFP season began May 25, warnings Louisiana would reach a self-imposed 743,000-pound private recreational red snapper quota in less than 40 days.

That hasn’t happened. Far from it, after the LDWF’s highly accredited LA Creel survey showed an estimate of 7,899 pounds taken during Week 5 by the private sector. LA Creel has a built-in 10-day lag in reporting periods, and Week 5 took in the week ending June 24.

The agency’s prediction came after three weeks of calm offshore conditions, but catches in Week 4 (17,518 pounds) and Week 5 came during adverse sea conditions.

When totaled, the state’s private anglers have landing an estimated 284,509 pounds, far short of a prediction that, just two weeks ago, would have shut the private season down sometime this week. Uncounted today are the two weeks beginning June 25 and running through July 8, which, of course, included a heavily fished Fourth of July holiday.

When 14,552 pounds are added from charterboats’ red snapper catches, the state’s five-week total is 299,061 pounds.