A week sure makes a difference.
This time last week, we were without electricity — thanks goodness Barry didn’t bring with Katrina-like heat — and could only wonder what conditions would be like this week with two major fishing rodeos on the calendar.
Yes, it’s that time. The International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo will hold sway on the state’s only inhabited barrier island — it’s the oldest competitive saltwater fishing event in our country — and Kleo Blue’s gathers folks at Venice for the annual Faux Pas Lodge Rodeo with its unique trophy-only and competitive inshore and offshore “calcutta” divisions.
Both run Thursday through Saturday, and each have plenty of details on their websites:
Weather permitting, those two major rodeos will tell how many more days offshore fishermen will have to chase red snapper this year.
Since the latest report from state marine fisheries managers — and their highly acclaimed LA Creel data-collection system — the current total, through July 7, is 466,001 pounds. That’s 57 percent of the 816,439-pound allowable recreational red snapper catch for 2019.
As expected, the bad-weather weekend from June 17-23 produced only a 1 percent take from that allowed catch. It was 9,988 pounds. The next weekend, June 24-30, was fished under better conditions, and the take jumped to 42,831 according to LA Creel statistics.
Remember, those were three-day weekend seasons, and led to a four-day Fourth of July season.
Anglers fished the holiday under hot, but near ideal sea conditions, and the red snapper haul totaled 126,281 pounds with 121,394 coming from “private” recreational fishermen and 4,887 taken by state-licensed charterboat operations.
The average weekly landings come to 62,352 for private anglers, and 4,220 for charterboats, which amount to an average take of about 8 percent per week.
It a sure bet the take during last weekend’s Hurricane Barry warnings, the take was at or near zero.
Factoring in 2018’s LA Creel numbers, that storm-reduced activity, this week’s expected rodeo-induced haul, and the drop-off in private recreational trips with the approaching openings of schools, fishermen are likely to be able to have three-day weekend red snapper seasons through August, and possibly have a four-day Labor Day weekend season.
Just keep your fingers crossed on that possibility.
On the coast
Late-week reports from Grand Isle prove what old-timers fishing the surf passed along years ago: Working the beaches starting about three hours before the high tide is the best time for catching speckled trout.
Yeah, you have to match the bait in the surf for the best action, but throughout last week, action in the surf at daylight was near nonexistent. Sometime around 9 a.m., when the tide started pushing a little harder into the beach, the action increased on keeper and throwback specks.
Remember, too, last week’s tides were the strongest of the month, and that helps push the “catch” window out to maybe four hours before high tide at Caminada Pass.