Other than state and local election results, the big surprises in the past few days are the reopening of weekend red snapper season — yes, this weekend and the next two — and the surprising turn in the weather.
That makes five extra weekends in the recreational red snapper season.
The decision by Wildlife and Fisheries secretary Jack Moutoucet came after LA Creel data-collection system produced late-in-the-week numbers for the Sept. 23-25 weekend showing private recreational fishermen caught only 1,919 pounds. That left Louisiana with a 17 weekends-only fishing total of 767,124 pounds, some 49,315 pounds shy of the state’s 816,439-pound quota.
Veteran landings watchers predicted a lower-than-usual weekend catches now that school, football and some hunting seasons have captured more interest from the state’s sportsmen.
And it appears these three extra weekends — remember LA Creel still has to count October’s first weekend in the season — to get close to the annual quota.
If the state comes up shy of that 816K catch, the remaining pounds will go back into the hopper to be divided among the five Gulf states for the 2020 season when the five states take their first steps into managing recreational red snapper seasons.
And did you see Florida reopened three October weekends — Saturday and Sunday only — for its red snapper season after closing it back in late June.
Word is waters across the southern reaches of Terrebonne Parish are hot, and the first reports of speckled trout in the marshes came from there last week.
Petit Caillou Bayou produced a two-man trout limit, along with the stretches along the bayous, breaks and run-outs on the north end of Lake Barre.
Bass and redfish were coming from the bayous and marshes in the Theriot area where trout were reported to be moving into the Lake DeCade area.
The Lake Pontchartrain Basin is heating up for trout, too, and Lake St. Catherine was giving up trout, although not limits. The marshes off the Intracoastal Waterway and the MRGO continue to hold bass and redfish.
For the most part, working soft-plastics on jigheads and small topwater lures seem to be the right combo for trout, and spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, some topwaters, swimbaits and weightless (and weedless) worms are working in the grassbeds for bass and reds.
The hunting side
Dr. Jim LaCour, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ veterinarian, said Friday’s rain and rain in this week’s forecast means he can finally do some work on food plots for the coming season.
LaCour’s the lead man on the state’s battle to keep chronic wasting disease from infecting Louisiana’s wild deer, and said the rain will help in many more ways.
“We had the perfect conditions for an outbreak of blue tongue … a wet spring and dry summer,” LaCour said. “But we’ve only worked six cases this year, and that’s good.”
Blue tongue is an insect-borne viral disease spread by midges – yes, those tiny critters.
The Fort Polk and Peason Ridge wildlife management areas draw hunters from across the state, but the U.S. Army has asked the LDWF to close these areas to hunters for the Oct. 26-27 weekend. There’s military training set for that week.
Fort Polk is near Leesville in Vernon Parish, while Peason Ridge takes in parts of northern Vernon Parish and spreads into Sabine and Natchitoches parishes.
Maybe its because Louisiana has the best redfish action in the country — maybe the world — that the IFA Redfish Tour will hold its 2019 championship Friday and Saturday at Venice Marina.
Teams qualified through a series of events in five divisions held across the Gulf and southern Atlantic states. Weigh-ins will be held in mid-afternoon both days at the Marina. The top two teams win Ranger boats rigged with Mercury outboards, and will compete for Cabela's Team of the Year and the $5,000 check that goes with that title.