Western duck hunters fare better on opening day _lowres

Photo provided by JESSICA LEON Laney Leon proved that patience and persistence pays off when he took this 190-pound, 10-point buck on a hunt last weekend near St. Francisville. The 12-year-old from St. Amant said his 45-70 primitive weapon misfired seven times before he got off the shot that took this trophy whitetail. It was his first deer since the untimely death of his father, Lance, shortrly after the last deer season.

The chatter was deafening, but only if you were hearing it from the southwestern marshes Saturday, the opening day of the state’s Coastal Zone duck season.

Although there were several good reports, the guys hunting the southeastern marshes weren’t as talkative, certainly not across-the-board excited as the wild waterfowlers busting the skies in the rice fields and marshes in Vermilion and Cameron parishes.

“We had one blind that had their 12 birds in 25 minutes,” Baton Rougean Frank Dreher said after his morning in the marshes off the southern end of Calcasieu Lake south of Hackberry. “The other blind was finished by 8:30 (a.m.) and we had 23 teal and one gray.”

Dreher said it wasn’t that there were no “big” birds, species like gadwall, or “grays,” mallards or pintail in the area, because there were, but “there’s no way you can pass up taking teal when they’re staring you in the face.”

Other southwest clubs reported similar results, with an exception of less-than-limits (six ducks per hunter) in a couple of spots in the Grand Chenier area. Pecan Island, Gueydan and Welch had ducks, and lots of them, and lots of happy hunters. From two reports, it appears the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area held enough ducks for averages of between 4-5 birds per hunter.

In the southeastern marshes, there were hot spots in the Delacroix area, near the cuts on the east side across from Buras along the Mississippi River and in the Pass a Loutre WMA, but there appeared to be as many disappointed hunters as there were limited-out ones.

The coastal marshes will be helped by another cold front predicted to move through the state Sunday and bring even colder temperatures for Monday and Tuesday than the frigid morning lows that moved more ducks into the state the two mornings before opening day.

More than a trophy

Jessica Leon said she believes there was more to her son’s two Saturdays ago hunt than him sitting on a stand in big-deer woods near St. Francisville.

Laney Leon came out that day with a monster 10-point buck, a trophy for the 12-year-old from St. Amant.

“This deer was definitely meant for Laney to shoot,” Jessica Leon wrote.

Seems Laney drew down on a big buck in late October, believed he hit it, but couldn’t track it down.

“Two weeks later, the same deer walked out,” she said. “The 45-70 gun he was using misfired seven times before he got the shot that put (the deer) down.”

Here’s where the story continues: Laney’s dad and Jessica’s husband, Lance, died shortly after the last deer season. He was 42. Lots of folks knew Lance Leon and knew how avid a hunter he was, and how much pride he took in passing down his hunting passion to his son.

Jessica Leon said Lance “taught Laney all he knew. Laney said felt his dad’s presence when he pulled the trigger. This was a deer sent from above.”

Lakes updates

The big lakes on opposite ends of the state, Pontchartrain on the east and Calcasieu on the west, are filling with speckled trout. The obvious snag to fishing the Pontchartrain bridges and the Calcasieu rocks and reefs is the wind and barometric pressure.

When winds lay and the barometer comes off those post-cold fronts 30.30-inches highs, the trout are feeding in these lakes better than they have all year and are taking a variety of artificial lures, and, when you can find them, large live shrimp.

The best marsh action continues to come from the Delacroix-Hopedale and the Terrebonne Parish marshes. Speckled trout are biting best in open-water areas like Oak River and fronts of bays and lakes, while redfish are cruising the points, grassbeds and marsh banks.

To the Classic

Six anglers added their names to the 2015 Bassmaster Classic last weekend on the Ouachita River in Monroe.

Unfortunately, there’s not a Louisiana name on that list. Prairieville’s David Cavell finished sixth among the nine Central Division anglers, who were competing for one of the six places allowed for division winners in the B.A.S.S. Federation Nationals.

Cavell came back after a rough first day to catch five-bass limits the last two days of the competition for a 14-bass catch weighing an even 20 pounds.

Teb Jones of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, won the Central Division’s Classic berth with an even 25 pounds.

Paul Mueller, who competed in this year’s Classic in Alabama as a Federation qualifier, won on Ouachita with a last-day’s 14-pound, 9-ounce catch that gave him the top spot with a 32-15 total and the Eastern Division’s berth. Mueller had the top single-day catch, 32-3, in 2014 Classic on Lake Guntersville in Alabama.

The anglers in the Nationals field qualified to represent their respective states through divisional bass tournaments, and earned a spot in the 2015 Classic on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina by outcatching other divisional anglers.