If there is one overwhelming reason hundreds of thousands of Louisianans like to fish is because they like to eat their catches.
Is there anything better than a weekend fish fry?
Gatherings of family and friends with platters of golden brown fillets complemented by all sorts of side dishes. Add ketchup and tartar sauce, or your special homemade concoction and add a cold beverage — iced tea, of course — and it’s a meal fit for royalty.
Maybe that’s why Friday’s news release from three state agencies hits most all southeast Louisiana fishermen squarely in the gut.
The state departments of Health, Environmental Quality and Wildlife and Fisheries announced updates for six existing fish consumption advisories, and all six are waters fished daily by you and your neighbors.
These advisories are issued when DEQ data shows “unacceptable levels of mercury” found in fish and/or shellfish.
The agencies warnings should be noted by “women of childbearing age” and children 6 and younger, and covers species these specific demographic groups should “consume no more than once per month” and some species which should be eaten no more than twice each month. The groups of fish species cover the groups of fish and not individual species for once/twice a month consumption.
The agencies’ scientists said a meal consists of a half pound of fish for adults, but did not outline meal weight for children.
These latest fish-consumption advisories for nearby waterways include:
Amite River Drainage Basin: The Amite River from the Louisiana-Mississippi state line to Lake Maurepas along with Colyell Creek, the Diversion Canal and the Petite Amite River. The one meal/month restriction takes in choupique, gaspergou, largemouth bass and goggle-eye, and the two meals/month limit is for bigmouth buffalo, sac-a-lait, flathead catfish, chinquapin and spotted bass.
Bayou Liberty: Confined to Bayou Liberty. The exception here is none of the demographic groups should each black sac-a-lait (white sac-a-lait is a different subspecies). The one meal/month restriction is for choupique, flathead catfish, largemouth bass and white sac-a-lait, and the two meals/month limit is for bluegill, gaspergou, chinquapin and white bass. Other adults and children 7 and older should limit eating black sac-a-lait to no more than two meals/month, or no more than three meals/month of flathead catfish.
Blind River: Confined Blind River. The one meal/month restriction is for choupique, largemouth bass and gaspergou, and the two meals/month limit covers “any other species from the advisory area,” and other adults and children 7 and older “should consume no more than three meals per month of choupique.”
Tangipahoa River: The Tangipahoa River from the Louisiana-Mississippi state line to Lake Pontchartrain. The one meal/month restriction is for choupique, flathead catfish, gaspergou, largemouth bass and spotted bass, and the two meals/month limit to all other species combined. Other adults and children 7 and older should limit eating largemouth bass to no more than three meals per month.
Bogue Falaya & Tchefuncte Rivers: The Bogue Falaya River from its headwaters to the Tchefuncte River, and the Tchefuncte from its headwaters to Lake Pontchartrain to include all oxbow lakes along these waterways. The one meal/month restriction is on black drum, sac-a-lait, flathead catfish, gaspergou, largemouth bass and spotted bass, and the two meals/month limit takes in bigmouth buffalo, bluegill, choupique and striped bass. Other adults and children 7 and older should limit eating flathead catfish, gaspergou, largemouth bass and spotted bass to no more than three meals per month.
Tickfaw River: The Tickfaw River from the Louisiana-Mississippi state line to Lake Maurepas, to include the Natalbany and Blood rivers and Lizard and Ponchatoula creeks. The one meal/month restriction is on bigmouth buffalo, choupique, flathead catfish, gaspergou, largemouth bass and white sac-a-lait, and the two meals/month limit takes in all other species. Other adults and children 7 and older need to limit eating gaspergou and largemouth bass to three times per month.
Some 43 additional Louisiana waterways have fish-consumption advisories, and there’s one advisory for the Gulf of Mexico.
The complete list is posted on the Louisiana Department of Health website: ldh.la.gov/EatSafeFish.
According to LA Creel, Wildlife and Fisheries highly regarded data-collection system, Louisiana offshore fishermen have taken 422,561 pounds — 50% — of this year’s 832,493-pound allocation after eight weeks into the Friday-through-Sunday private recreational red snapper season.
The count is through July 18, and virtually assures the state season will run through the four-day Labor Day snapper season.
The complete landings data is available on the Wildlife and Fisheries website: wlf.louisiana.gov/page/red-snapper
The recreational greater amberjack and gray triggerfish seasons reopened Sunday.
Note these triggerfish regulations: the size limit is 15 inches minimum fork length, and you can have one per per day within the 20 reef-fish aggregate that includes several other snapper species. The full list of size and daily creel limits are on the LDWF website: wlf.louisiana.gov/page/recreational-saltwater-finfish.
The federal and state triggerfish is expected to close Oct. 25, but it could be earlier depending on catch rates.
The amberjack season is scheduled to remain open through Oct. 31.
Renovations and upgrades to all shooting ranges on the Sherburne Wildlife Management Area means the ranges will be closed for about three weeks according to LDWF managers.
Wednesday is the Great American Outdoors Day, and the U.S. Department of the Interior is waiving entrance fees to all public lands, but will collect fees for overnight camping, cabin rentals, and group day use.
The day celebrates last year’s passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, a move that increased funding for national parks and public lands.
In big trouble
Two Buras men, Timothy Cheramie, 56, and Michael Cone, 46, were nabbed in late July by Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents for using skimmer nets during a closed inshore shrimp season.
The spring inshore shrimp season closed July 2 statewide.
According to the LDWF report, agents found Cheramie in Bastian Bay with of 118 pounds of shrimp, and it was “Cheramie’s third offense for using skimmers during a closed season.”
Cone was found in Cyprian Bay with 925 pounds of shrimp, and, the report stated, “Cone also did not possess a commercial fishing license, vessel license or gear license. This is Cone’s second offense for using skimmers during a closed shrimp season.”
Facing jail time and hefty fines, Cone could have his shrimp gear license revoked for three years, and Cheramie, if found guilty for a third violation, could face license revocation for 10 years.
The case has been forwarded to District Attorney Charles Ballay for prosecution.