Bass winner

Winning haul

Jordan Sylvester fished with his dad, Jimmy, and hauled in the overall top catch, a solid five-bass, 16.89-pound total to lead last weekend's Junior Southwest Bassmaster's monthly tournament held from Doiron's Landing in Stephensville. He's holding the day's top largemouth, a 4.87-pounder in his left hand. While the 51 junior anglers were allowed to fish either the Atchafalaya or Verret basin from the landing, the top catches reportedly came from the Verret side.

What a week.

Seven days of watching one storm, Laura, take up the slack left when Marco fizzled before our eyes, and watching in horror when Laura became the strongest hurricane to hit Louisiana in our lifetime.

Folks across our state, especially our friends and neighbors west of Lafayette, are in one or another stage of recovery today. It sure looks like it’ll take months, maybe years, for at least 35 of our state's 64 parishes to return to any level approaching where they were Tuesday.

Experience dealing with storms dating to hurricanes Betsy, Camille, Katrina, Rita and Gustav, says if you don’t have business being in Laura’s swath of destruction, don’t go — and this includes fishermen and hunters.

It’s too early to tell what this tragic storm did to the waterfowl habitat across our coastal marshes and in the rice fields. Teal season is two weeks away. Dove season opens Saturday, and it’s likely Laura’s destruction will lead to some partial closures on public hunting areas.

Just know waterfowl and upland game managers were, and will be, assessing the damage and will have information on any suspensions or closures this week.

If the forecast on Laura’s storm surge through the Calcasieu Ship Channel and Calcasieu Lake didn’t live up to those “unsurvivable” warnings, then consider the Mermentau River rose nearly 14 feet in 24 hours and was four feet above the level Rita pushed into that basin 12 years ago.

To put a face on this tragedy, a friend and first-rate veteran waterfowl guide, James Doxey, sent out a message that only slabs remained Friday where his home and barn stood on La. 82 at Oak Grove. Doxey is just one among hundreds in Cameron and Vermilion parishes who face another life-altering experience since 2008.

Early Friday reports indicated Cypremort Point sustained heavy damage.

Today, it’s important we remember these folks with our prayers. And if you can help with a few dollars to good, worthy causes, then you can do that, too.

More on HIP

Earlier this month, there continued the wrangling over the $2 fee charged to get a “free” Harvest Information Program certificate, a piece of paper you need to be legal to hunt waterfowl or any migratory bird. HIP is required for all hunters 16 and older.

Well, Friday, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced the $2 online fee for HIP will be waived beginning Tuesday.

The new release read: “(The) fee waiver was the result of ongoing negotiations with the vendor that covers online services for HIP certification. LDWF did not receive revenue from that assessment. No refunds will be provided to those who have already paid the $2 online transaction fee.”

Since 2006 anyone purchasing licenses online have had to pay a $2 transaction fee, and, since June 1 this year, the HIP certificate option was removed from stores and shops selling licenses (the LDWF’s Baton Rouge office handled HIP with no fee). The move was to better the information obtained from the HIP questionnaire.

The $2 fee will continue when buying licenses online.

Offshore & snapper

Florida issued a statement that the gray triggerfish season will open Tuesday and remain open through Oct. 25 in its state and in federal waters.

Guess that applies to Louisiana, too, if anyone wants to brave the flotsam off our coast left by Laura.

The latest recreational red snapper landings came Friday from Wildlife and Fisheries. Remember the weekends-only season was shut down Aug. 10 while state marina biologists determined the LA Creel totals.

Well, the data (through Aug. 9) shows 740,268 pounds landed. That’s 94% of our state’s 784,332-pound 2020 private recreational allocation.

The season will remain closed until, as the release stated, “LDWF will make a decision regarding additional red snapper opportunities in the near future.”

Basins bass

The top catches in last weekend’s Junior Southwest Bassmasters monthly tournament came from the Belle River side, club boss Jim Breaux reported. Anglers were allowed to fish both the Verret and Atchafalaya basins.

Baton Rouge teenager Jordan Sylvester led the way with a first-rate, five-bass haul weighing 16.89 pounds topped by a healthy 4.87-pound big bass. Club rules allowed his dad, Jimmy, to list the same weight to top the Adult Division, because Jimmy had a lower weight.

In all, 51 youngsters, paired with an adult, competed and 20 five-bass limits came to the scales.

Breaux said the club added a record 24 young anglers in one month, and that most of the fish came on “ spinnerbaits, vibrating jigs, frogs, flukes, punchin’ mats, crankbaits, worms and ‘caffeine’ shad.”

For more on JSB’s club, call Breaux at (225) 772-3026.

And, if you wanted to know about Laura’s affect on nearby waters, know the Atchafalaya River at Morgan City went from 3.9 feet Tuesday to 6.48 feet Thursday before settling to 3.94 feet Friday.

The Mississippi River at New Orleans was at 4.8 feet Tuesday then went to slightly more than 6 feet in 24 hours.