State Wildlife and Fisheries refuge biologist Shane Granier is extra good about keeping the media up to date on the success, or lack thereof, of duck hunters on Louisiana’s three coastal duck-hunting wildlife management areas.
His past three reports should give hunters a good look-see into success rates for the remaining days of the first split and into the second split coming in December. Granier takes pains to talk to hunters taking out from launches to access the Atchafalaya Delta, Pass a Loutre and Pointe-aux-Chenes WMAs, and it’s clear Pass a Loutre is leading this pack.
It’s tough hunting down near the mouth of the Mississippi River, but those who know the area know all too well the vagaries of hunting a place where tides influence the movement of ducks. Same thing happens at the Atchafalaya Delta, but it’s usually much earlier in the day than along the east side of the Mississippi River.
Opening day drew the largest turnout, an estimated 725 hunters on the Atchafalaya Delta, 180 at Pass a Loutre and 505 at Pointe-aux-Chenes.
Those 180 hunters at Pass a Loutre brought in 686 ducks, a 3.8 per hunter average. The respective Atchafalaya numbers were 1,567 for a 2.2 average, and it was 488 at Pointe-aux-Chenes for a near 1 duck per hunter take.
Bluewing teal made up most of the ducks taken opening day with greenwing teal and gray ducks next in line. Add in a total of 451 poule d’eau, 120 gallinules, 42 mergansers and 20 rails, and lots of folks had more than enough for a gumbo.
Hunter numbers have declined since opening day, but the success rate for Pass a Loutre has climbed, like 4.7 ducks per hunter Nov. 18 and 2.8 per hunter Nov. 20. There’s been a shift in the ducks taken there, too, from bluewings to a majority of larger gray ducks.
Average numbers for those two days are down to one duck per hunter on both the Atchafalaya and Pointe-aux-Chenes WMAs.
What this could mean is there aren’t enough hunters to move the birds, or birds continue to raft up offshore and won’t move until wind or strong tides send them into shallow-water feeding spots.
Thanksgiving weekend is usually the “telling time” for all three WMAs. It’s when more hunters show up to hunt all the available spots and tend to stay longer in their blinds.
About those WMAs
Just days before that hacking incident that crippled some state government computers, Wildlife and Fisheries issued a reminder to any and all hunters venturing into the Atchafalaya Delta, Biloxi, Lake Boeuf, Pass a Loutre, Pointe-aux-Chenes and Salvador/Timken WMAs must check in and check out daily for all activities on the WMAs through either LDWF WMA Self-Clearing Permits, the LDWF WMA SCP app or the LDWF WMA check-in/check-out web portal.
Information on kiosk locations for each WMA can be found in specific WMA listing in the current state hunting regulations pamphlet or on WMA maps available from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for your Apple or Android device.
The agency’s advisory stated, “The LDWF WMA app will allow users to check in electronically via their smart device. The LDWF WMA check-in/check-out web portal can be found at wlf.louisiana.gov/apps.
Then, last Wednesday, the LDWF release indicated WMA users “...may experience technical difficulties when attempting to use the LDWF WMA Self-clearing Permit (SCP) app and web portal due to complications from the Louisiana state government computer outage incident,” but still can use paper forms at the information kiosks.
NAWCA passes House
Just before the Thanksgiving break, the U.S. House passes the North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act, a move to reauthorize the successful habitat conservation program. It mostly benefits migratory birds. The bill sets aside $60 million annually through 2024.
The first NAWCA bill was passed in 1989, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership reported the government funds “has granted more than $1.73 billion and leveraged $3.57 billion in matching funds from local and state partners to complete nearly 3,000 projects on 30 million acres of habitat across all 50 states.”
“As many Americans head out to duck blinds or volunteer to band or survey birds this season, it’s great to see the House prioritize a collaborative and popular conservation program to benefit wetlands across the country,” TRCP CEO Whit Fosburgh said.
Blame the recent full moon for decreased trout and redfish catches early last week and into last weekend. Trips from the Pontchartrain Basin west to Cocodrie and Four Point produced decent catches, but not like November’s first two weeks.
The back side of the full moon brought lower tides and moving water was hard to find during the first 6-7 hours after sunrise, and it meant fish were not in the feeding mode.
Catches should pick up this week with a not-so-string front rolling in Friday. Rain is in the forecast for next Tuesday through Thanksgiving Day.
Unless something dramatic happens, it sure doesn’t appear we’re going to get near our state’s 816,439-pound private recreational red snapper quota.
With Friday-through-Sunday seasons open “until further notice,” the LA Creel count is up to 788,857 pounds after recreational fishermen took an estimated 3,430 pounds during the Nov. 8-10 weekend.