Fishing photo

Garrett Fontenot, left, and Mason Brown show four of their five-bass catch that made them the winners of last weekend's Louisiana High School State Western Division qualifier held on Toledo Bend. The Ascension Parish anglers weighed in 17.88 pounds with their big bass tipping the scales at 3.97 pounds. The state championship tournament concludes Sunday out of Doiron's Landing in Stephensville.

It’s May and south Louisiana outdoors is crammed with info. So, let’s go.

Fishing first: Traveled along I-10/I-12 last week and all Florida Parishes rivers and bayous are running high and muddy, and there’s not much chance for them to fall and clear with 1½ inches of rain expected to fall across our area Monday through Wednesday on another “cold” front.

There will be short-lived north winds late Wednesday into Thursday before southerly winds return by next weekend.

The barometric pressures, at 20.91 inches Monday, is not predicted to rise above 30.2 inches this week.

Respective Mississippi River stages at Baton Rouge and New Orleans are predicted to rise to 34- and 11.1 feet by May 20, then go on a slow fall to 26.7 and 9.9 feet by June 4.

That done, it appears the action on speckled trout exploded in the middle of last week in the Pontchartain, Barataria and Terrebonne basins.

Find moving water with a bit of clarity (guys were catching specks with 12 inches of visibility) was key.

The bonus is the larger trout were chasing topwater lures with the better catches coming on MirrOlures and She Dogs. Otherwise, a wide variety of soft plastics and live shrimp worked under poppin’ corks did the trick on throwbacks (less than 12 inches long) up to 21 inches.

Water levels remain on the high side in the Atchafalaya and Verret basins, where the best reports of sac-a-lait catches were posted if you had the patience to work tube jigs and shiners slowly. Bass are taking soft plastics in the canes in the Buras and Venice areas.

The youngsters

The Ascension Parish team of Mason Brown and Garrett Fontenot won and led a dominating performance by young, south Louisiana anglers in the final Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation High School qualifier held on Toledo Bend last weekend. Their five-bass limit weighed 17.88 pounds.

Second place went to the reigning state champions Beau Landry and Gage Collins from the West Baton Rouge Bassmasters. They had 15.03 pounds.

Tuerlings Catholic’s Joseph Cramer and Brett Garber were next at 14.59 pounds and led their school to the overall team title. Their 8.31-pounder was the heaviest bass, an 8.31 lunker that turned out to be the top bass of all nine qualifying tournaments.

Lutcher’s Cole Dicharry and Brayden Beissinger came in fourth at 13.48 pounds, and the Port Barre team of Taylor Bourgeois and Nick Perry (13.35 pounds) rounded out the top five among the 116 teams.

The Denham Springs-based Junior Southwest Bassmasters team of Caden Sellers and Jackson Rogers took the Junior Bassmasters' Western Division qualifier with a 13.8-pound catch.

Second and third places were claimed by Central Louisiana Junior Bassmasters team of Cameron Burns and Nicholas England (7.21 pounds) and Mathew Richard and Talen Landry of the Erath Junior Bassmasters (5.98 pounds).

Snapper season

Opening day for the private recreational red snapper season is Friday, May 28 in state and federal waters. The Friday-through-Sunday seasons will run until the Wildlife and Fisheries staff determines state offshore fishermen have hit, or come close, to this year’s 832.493-pound alllowed catch (19.1% of the 2021 Gulf-wide total allowed catch).

The Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approved the season during its Thursday meeting.

The May 28 opener will extend through Monday, May 31, Memorial Day as one of two allowed four-day weekend seasons. The other is Labor Day, but only if we haven’t reached our state’s allowed take.

The season allows a two-per-day catch with a 16-inch minimum-size limit.

The four-day Memorial Day season also will allow anglers to take advantage of the last four days of the May greater amberjack season in state and federal waters.

Other LWFC news

The commission also voted for a rare statewide 6 a.m. May 24 opening of the spring inshore shrimp season. According to state biologists that’s when 50% of the inshore brown shrimp population reach 100-count per pound or larger.

  • The biologists also took time to remind shrimpers of the newly established Lake Borgne, Grand Banks, West Karako Bay and Cabbage Reef 10-acre artificial reef sites, and noted buoys were placed at each reef site when the reefs were placed in 2020 but most of the buoys have been lost.

The staff said the agency is “working to replace the buoys on these reefs and reminds shrimpers to be mindful of the reef locations in the Mississippi Sound and Lake Borgne waterways.”

Reef locations can be found on the LDWF website: wlf.louisiana.gov/page/artificial-reefs.

  • Tabled the notice of intent on the commercial menhaden issue. It appears the LWFC's notice was for a one-quarter mile buffer from the shoreline, possibly farther out into the Gulf of Mexico in the Grand Isle area, for the menhaden take, and, instead, will let the State Legislature decide this issue.
  • The 2021-2022 general hunting and wildlife management areas seasons, rules and regulations were ratified Thursday. The only major amendment added to the original proposed regulations pertained to the use of deer urine by hunters.

The regulations reads: “It is unlawful to import, sell, use or possess scents or lures that contain natural deer urine or other bodily fluids, except natural deer urine products by manufacturers or entities that are actively enrolled and participating in either the Responsible Hunting Scent Association or Archery Trade Association Deer Protection Program, and which has been tested using real-time quaking induced conversion and certified that no detectable levels of chronic wasting disease are present and is clearly labeled as such.”