Looks like we’re going to get a full dose of government this week, some good but mostly bad.
Seems another gate has gone up to block access to pretty darned good fishing holes.
This time it’s the Orange Grove area in Terrebonne Parish.
I spent a day in these canals years ago with a young Mike Iaconelli, who qualified for the Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans while he was an amateur angler. He worked his way up from 10th place that final day to finish his first Classic in fifth place. He returned to south Louisiana a handful of years later to win the then-$500,000 Classic champion’s prize money.
This vast network has swallowed up freshwater fishermen for years, and now they are denied access by a gate.
The Louisiana Sportsmen’s Coalition stays on top of such things, and its growing number of members are fighting to keep this area from adding miles to the list of coastal and near-coast waterways denied to anglers access.
The issue appears to be the rush to permit construction of the gates, a permit approved by Terrebonne Parish’s Mart Black, the director of the parish’s Office of Coastal Restoration and Preservation.
In an alert to members, the LASC indicated its research discovered the Army Corps of Engineers never received an application for a permit to build the gates.
Furthermore, Terrebonne Parish scheduled a public hearing in March, but the meeting was, according to the LASC, “...shut down due to COVID-19 social distancing.”
The LASC further stated Black said he approved gate construction permit after receiving no negative comments.
Heavy email and telephone traffic prompted Black's response: “I support your efforts to keep fishing free and open in Terrebonne Parish. Losing these areas due to gates is costing the parish money. A solution needs to be found.
“My charge deals with impacts to vegetated wetlands under federal and state legislation, not with gates on private property. All required public notice postings were followed for this permit. The long-term solution to this can only be found in Baton Rouge with the (state) Legislature. A law should be enacted which prohibits such gates but carefully and fairly balances the needs of the property owners and the public, the fishing community."
A public meeting is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Regional Military Museum, 1154 Barrow Street in Houma.
Lily Bergeron broke the ice Saturday when she became the first girl to place in the 10 years of Junior Southwest Bassmasters’ monthly tournament.
She won the 11-14 age group with a five-bass catch weighing 11.48 pounds, and had the group’s big bass, a 3.03-pounder.
Hanson Chaney came in with the heavy stringer, 14.36 pounds, to win the 15-18 age group, and Beau Smith won in the age 7-10 group with 10.49 pounds. All nine places were taken by youngsters bringing in five-bass limits.
Although they launched from the Amelia Landing, several boats worked through “no wake” zones to get into the Belle River area.
Club moderator Jim Breaux reported the top lures were spinnerbaits, crankbaits, topwater Whopper Ploppers, frogs, Sinkos, D-Bombs and crawfish imitations.
• Trusted False River reporter Sam Pernici told of the big-time catfish run on the oxbow, a catch of “...20-25 nice 13-15 inch catfish. Worms work the best, and the gnats seem to be slowing down.”
• Fishermen 15 years and younger can enter a 27th annual, and now virtual, Youth Fishing Rodeo set June 13-14 and sponsored by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on the Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges.
More info will come next Sunday. Youngsters will be able to fish anywhere in Louisiana, and you won’t have to register.
Menhaden — pogeys — will make a rare appearance on the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission’s agenda for its monthly meeting set for 9:30 a.m. Thursday at state Wildlife and Fisheries headquarters on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge.
Recreational fishermen and related organizations have become increasingly concerned about the millions of pounds of pogeys taken from the Atlantic for several years and, now, Gulf of Mexico waters. The fish provide forage for fish pursued by recreational anglers along with commercial species. Another concern is how many species like speckled trout, redfish and commercial species like black drum are snared in pogey nets.
Public comment likely will be held to a minimum during the return to a “live” commission meeting.
The LDWF issued this meeting advisory: “Due to the public health emergency guidelines established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, only 25 members of the public will be allowed in the meeting room at one time. All members of the public will have to wear a mask to enter the building.”
To mitigate these rules, LWFC members agreed to ask the public to limit attendance inside the Joe Herring Room to only those agenda items of interest and to leave the room after that item has been heard to allow other members of the public to move into the room.
Other major agenda items include:
• A notice to amend the state’s Hunter Education Program certification policy;
• A call by commission member and oyster industry representative Al Sunseri for a presentation on plans related to CARES Act funding for the state’s 2019 fisheries disaster declaration related to the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway and the unusually high Mississippi River.
• A notice to change commercial greater amberjack daily trip limits.
• A report on the opening of the recreational red snapper season.
• An update on wildlife and fisheries bills in the State Legislature.
The meeting will have live audio and video streaming via Zoom with this registration: wlf-la.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_lxxnQcVyRoOZNlImQrY5Qg.
Unlike at the Zoom meeting in May, the public will not have the chance to comment on the webcast but can email public comment to Comments@wlf.la.gov. (The email must include the agenda item number in the subject of your email and must include name and address.)
Your two cents
U.S. Interior secretary David Bernhardt and his staff have proposed opening and/or expanding fishing and hunting opportunity on 97 national wildlife refuges and nine national fish Hatcheries. Eight of the NWRs will be open to these activities for the first time, and the move will open an additional 2.3 million acres of land and water and could bring the hunting locations up to 399 — 331 for fishing — if the proposal is enacted.
The full proposal is available on the federal website: regulations.gov. You will need the docket number: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2020-0013. There are directions to submit comments, which are due June 9.
And the winner is
How fitting is it amidst this pandemic that Lufkin, Texas nurse Scott Tomez won the B.A.S.S.-sponsored Fish With Scott Canterbury sweepstakes?
According to B.A.S.S., Tomez has spent most of the past two months working in the emergency room in a hometown hospital.
“I've never won anything like this before,” Tomez said. “After the way this year has been, winning was a huge blessing and a great surprise.”
He’ll accompany Canterbury, a national touring pro angler, on a bass fishing vacation valued at more than $52,000 to spend time on what Tomez called his “home lakes,” Sam Rayburn Reservoir in east Texas and Toledo Bend on the Louisiana-Texas border.
“(I) look forward to catching fish again,” Tomez said.