Time to get hunting gear ready _lowres

Photo provided by RENNIE CARTER Preston's caught a what? Preston Petersen was fishing in the marshes and open-water areas southwest of The Fourchon the middle of October when he hooked a fish more common to southern Florida than south Louisiana. It's a permit, and it's nearest cousin is the pompano, a species commonly caught in Louisiana's shallow coastal waters, and, like pompano, permit up to 10 pounds are excellent tablefare. The Baton Rouge angler was using live shrimp, a favorite forage for permit, near Calumet Cut and Casse Tete Island. It's the second reported catch of a permit off the Louisiana coast in two years. A member of The Helldivers brought in a permit during the 2014 Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo.

OK, so this weekend’s rain has left your outdoors plans high and dry.

Better days are ahead, especially for waterfowl hunters, and they’re coming fast. It’s hard to believe that the big duck season opens Saturday in the Coastal Zone, and that means you shouldn’t let this day go by without taking advantage of the chance Mother Nature gave us to get all that hunting stuff ready.

Talking with Baton Rouge gunsmith David Reynerson a few years back gave an eye-opening appraisal of what the hunting season means for his business.

Reynerson confided that his busiest time of the year came in the first weeks of the hunting season when hunters found out their weapons malfunctioned.

And, Reynerson said, hunters showing up at his shop were stunned to find out how many others were in the same boat, and how much of a backlog there was at all area gunsmithing services.

OK, so don’t head to the backyard with shells and shotgun to find out if your prime waterfowling weapon doesn’t cycle. That’s illegal most places, but take time, while the Saints are beating the Giants, to clean your shotgun and try to detect any problems.

Odds are, if there’s a minor glitch, you can get the gun to a shop and have it back in time for the Friday afternoon trip to the camp.

Same with deer rifles. Clean them, too. Check the scope for clarity. Odds are the rifle isn’t sighted in for the season (not after it got beat up last year and you stored it for the past nine months), but check the scope to see if the adjusting knobs work.

Then check all the other things, notably footwear — don’t find out about a leaky boot when you take that first step into the marsh — rain gear, and make sure ammo left from last season is safe. Check primers for rust, and the overall appearance of shotshells.

As for decoys, well, critters like rats, mice and squirrels love to gnaw on stored decoys. OK, so most of you believe you don’t have these varmints in, or even near, your home or storage spot, until you check them and find holes in a half of your prized pintail and teal decoys. Clean the decoys in warm, soapy water. Make sure the tethers are usable and decoy weights are secure. There’s nothing like a rogue decoy (floating away from its tether) to ruin a morning hunt.

And make sure you have all the proper licenses. You need Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification, and all 16-and-older hunters need a federal waterfowl stamp in addition to a state basic hunting license and, except for state lifetime license holders, a state waterfowl stamp.

Commission meeting

We’re only one day into the duck season (the youth-only, Coastal Zone weekend) and a top agenda item for Thursday’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting is to consider establishing new waterfowl hunting zones for the next five seasons. New zone boundaries were outlined in early October.

Julie Hebert will be announced Thursday to fill the vacant seat and likely will be the deciding vote to break the deadlock in commission votes as to how to spend the 10 percent allotment of state hunting license fees dedicated “for the development and preservation of breeding grounds for migratory waterfowl.”

While Hebert is filling the seat vacated by Ed Swindell, who resigned to take Louisiana’s commercial spot on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, she is taking the spot on the commission occupied by Billy Broussard.

Before Thursday, Broussard is the commission member whose term runs concurrent with the governor. Gov. Bobby Jindal decided to move Broussard into Swindell’s spot, which means Broussard’s stay will be extended, and put Hebert into Broussard’s slot. It might mean Hebert could be the shortest-ever termed commission member, because Jindal leaves office in January.

The winner of the 2016 Louisiana Duck Stamp Contest also is on the agenda.

IFA Redfish winners

South Carolina angler Jamie Hough teamed with Georgia’s Ryan Tiernan to win the two-day IFA Redfish Tour Championship held out of Chalmette last month.

Their four redfish (two per day) weighed 34.02 pounds. Hough said they caught their best fish late in the day from rough waters in the Delacroix area under poppin’ corks.

Out-of-state anglers Chad Dufrene and Barnie White, the first-day leaders, finished third at 33.17 pounds. Second place went to Florida veterans Mark Sepe and Brandon Buckner. Their 33.5-pound total also earned them the IFA Team of the Year Award.