There’s almost no way to describe John Langlois’ passion for catching red snapper.
Maybe nothing short of a billboard-sized capital “P” would do. His wife, Kristi, swears he was vaccinated with a sharp fish hook.
Heck, the guy named his boat “Snapper Time.”
This Baton Rouge native has refined his angling skills in more ways than keeping records of where he’s found giant snapper during the past 20 years.
He’s even gone to the point of having a custom-made “snapper” rod built to handle the violent impact of a snapper strike, but with just enough flex in the rod to set a circle hook, which, for novice deep-water anglers takes a summer’s worth of trips to learn the correct way of catching fish with this federally mandated hook.
Langlois’ name has appeared on saltwater rodeo leader boards far too many times to count, but when year-round snapper trips were reduced to half-a-year, then months, then weeks, then days, he was as disheartened a south Louisiana fishermen as could be found.
“I thought about giving it up,” Langlois said a couple of years ago. “With fuel prices rising every year, and the reduction in the limit to two a day, and then the shortened season, it’s hardly worth the effort.”
But Langlois couldn’t resist the siren’s call to his favorite snapper holes. Last Saturday’s final-day weigh-in for the Swollfest Rodeo proved that.
Working with a five-man crew, Langlois, once again proved red snapper is still courses through his veins. He was on Swollfest’s leader board (but didn’t take first place) with a giant red beauty, 26.14 pounds to be exact, and his crew hauled in a handful of snapper weighing more than 20 pounds each. And, don’t worry, he got his two-per-day snapper in the last days of a nine-day federal-waters red snapper season, the shortest recreational season in the history of the Gulf of Mexico.
Because that nine-day season ended Monday, and because Langlois is a dedicated CCA member and puts up his entry for the annual Statewide Tournament and Anglers’ Rodeo, S.T.A.R. director Rad Trascher made Langlois the summer-long rodeo’s first winner.
“John laughed when I told him that he won the S.T.AR. red snapper division because he didn’t even win the division in Swollfest,” Trascher said last week. “The angler with Swollfest’s winning red snapper wasn’t even registered for S.T.A.R.”
Langlois’ prize is a $5,000 tackle package, just enough stuff there to keep him on the water for the rest of the summer, even if red snapper is forced from his list.
A Swollfest winner
It’s hard to stop a train, especially the Valenciano train, and Rudy V. and his son Marcus are set on making it difficult for the offshore anglers entered in the Friday-Saturday Catholic High Rodeo out of Fourchon Marina.
Marcus Valenciano set two Swollfest Rodeo records a week ago Saturday, first with a monster 66-pound cobia, then with a solid 52-pound king mackerel, that followed a 46-pound king he caught the previous day. Their combined catch earned the father-son team Swollfest’s Offshore Boat Awards.
“We caught a 15-pound red snapper on a jig in 50 feet of water,” Rudy Valenciano said. “And we had amberjacks swimming under our boat about 20 miles out. We were hand-feeding them along with the red snapper.”
Almost as disheartening as the now-closed, nine-day snapper season is the closed recreational season on greater amberjack across the Gulf of Mexico. The amberjack season reopens Aug. 1 in federal and state waters.
The Valencianos are the multi-years champions in CHS’ Mangrove Calcutta — their five-mangrove catch weighed 52.4 pounds last year and barely beat James Dry’s team — but the streak might be over.
“I still don’t know where the mangroves have gone,” Rudy V. said. “Caught three smaller ones on two days of fishing (the Swollfest). I’m afraid whoever catches just five mangroves will win the Catholic High calcutta.”
Drawing it down
Beginning July 1, state Wildlife and Fisheries managers will begin a draw-down on Black-Clear Lake near Campti in an effort to control what they label as “nuisance aquatic vegetation.” There’s an expected rate of 2-4 inches per day until the lake is 41/2-feet below pool stage. The LDWF release indicated the gates on the lake will be closed no later than Jan. 31.
LDWF Inland Fisheries Section managers warned boaters that lower water levels might not provide enough clearance from obstructions. Access to the lake will be limited to the public launches at Black Lake Lodge, Chandler’s, West Wind and Sandy Point.
A mini BOW
There’s a July 18 deadline for applying for 20 spots for a Becoming an Outdoor Woman Workshop set Aug. 2 at Woodworth. Go to website: www.wlf.louisiana.gov/mini-becoming-outdoors-woman.