Ever notice how there are four summers?
Yep, the summer for kids is over. School has started.
Summer, the Northern Hemisphere season dictated by the tilt of Earth in relation to the sun, will linger for about another month.
Then, there’s Louisiana summer, some brutally hot period usually lasting well past the autumnal equinox.
And there’s Labor Day, which, perhaps, is the official end of what only can be called “fishing summer.”
Next weekend we celebrate Labor Day weekend, and the last days of CCA’s S.T.A.R. summer-long fishing extravaganza.
It’s also the last of three four-day “weekend” seasons for the private recreational red snapper fishermen to get after the two-per-day allotment of fun-to-catch and wonderfully delicious fish.
This year is a little different: the high rivers running well into August delayed the action on bass in the Atchafalaya Basin and the runs off the Mississippi River in upper and lower Plaquemines Parish.
What those high levels left is more than silt, because it’s just in the last week or so bass catches have been spurred to heights we’ve not seen in August in many years.
And, there’s the real promise this action will run into September, then into the much more pleasant fall months across south Louisiana lakes, bayous and canals — at least the canals and bayous not blocked to public access (yes, there are some blocked).
This lack of access to what once were open waters is a subject each of the three major gubernatorial candidates must address. We should know where they stand on public access, and know how they stand, or sit, on an issue which could lead to Louisiana joining the other 49 states when it comes to being able to fish what should be considered public waters.
It’s that important.
Since most of the last Advocate Outdoors dwelt on bass fishing, the reports on smaller Atchafalaya fish are equally as good as those on their largemouth cousins in family of sunfishes.
Flat Lake chinquapin and sac-a-lait turned on last week. Both are hitting small crawfish-colored tube jigs. Blue/white jigs are another top color for sac-a-lait jigs, and nightcrawlers are always a favorite chinquapin bait.
Just because the first reports came from Flat Lake, don’t take that to mean it’s the only place. Big and Little Bayou Pigeon, upper Bayou Sorrel and the “calendar” bayous, April and May, hold bluegill, chinquapin and sac-a-lait, too, and fish living there should be just as eager to take live and artificial offerings as their Flat Lake brethren.
There’s nothing like it on any of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ wildlife management areas spread across our state — it’s wood stork day at the South Farm complex on the Sherburne Wildlife Management Area near Krotz Springs. The South Farm will open at 7 a.m. and the viewing party will end at 10 a.m.
The event usually takes place earlier during the summer, but high water prevented the LDWF and the Corps of Engineers from draining the farms.
This is done to dry the soil and prepare these areas to be flooded later in the year to become suitable habitat for migrating waterfowl, waterbirds and shorebirds.
When the water gets low enough on the South Farm, it sets a table of crawfish and other food sources for wood storks, shorebirds and other wading birds.
And the birds show up by the thousands, the giant storks, herons, egrets, ibises, and even roseate spoonbills.
It’s a free event, but anyone ages 16-60 showing up on the WMA must have a current state hunting or fishing license or have purchased the Wild Louisiana Stamp. That’s a requirement to visit any LDWF WMA. All are available at approved license vendors, by calling (888) 765-2602, or via the LDWF’s website: wlf.louisiana.gov.
The best advice is to get there early. The best way to get to the South Farm: off Interstate 10 at Ramah Exit 135, then north on La. 3000 to a left onto frontage road, then right on the road past the old gas station. Cross a bridge over the borrow pit, then right on the gravel road that parallels the levee. Continue north on the gravel road for about a mile, then look for the “South Farm” sign where you cross the levee to a parking lot.
For more details, call the LDWF Wildlife Division at its Lafayette office at (337) 735-8682.