Pallid sturgeon

Roman Tujague was stunned after setting out a line baited with what he called "hammer nightcrawler" to find this fish at the end of his line. It's a pallid sturgeon, a near prehistoric species native to the rivers and bayous of Louisiana, and is federally protected. Tujague, from Baton Rouge, was at his camp in Shaw on the Mississippi River in Concordia Parish. "I had a three ounce weight, and a swordfish light (a cyalume lightstick) and fishing with nightcrawler throughout the day," Tujague said. "I checked the line and came back with nothing but a clean hook." Long after dark, he said he rebated and fell asleep, awoke before dawn and found the rod shaking and bowed. He said the sturgeon was 22 inches long and weighed "close to five pounds." He released the fish after taking this photo. The pallid subspecies is one of three sturgeons found in Louisiana. Others are gulf and shovelnose, and all three are either on the threatened or endangered species list.

May is Safe Boating Month, and while you’re getting your boat ready for the spring, summer and fall fishing run — is there really a fishing season in Louisiana? — there’s some getting ready to do outdoors-wise.

May historically the month, and early in the month, when the state Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meets to hear the salient information about brown shrimp in our coastal waters. Wildlife and Fisheries biologists lay out the details, most of which center around suggested opening dates in different areas for the spring inshore shrimp season.

There has been no information coming from the agency about how this will be handled. The Shrimp Task Force is meeting Wednesday via webinar and, with some assurances, will be advised of this important season and its resources.

Make no mistake, there will be a season, and the commercial shrimpers and the shrimp sheds will have to work out the details about social distancing, etc.

We should know more this week.

• With Memorial Day weekend coming later this month, the commission will have to come up with an opening-day scenario for the recreational red snapper season. The earlier buzz was for four-day seasons wrapped around Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, with Friday-through-Sunday openings for the rest of June, July and August. LDWF secretary Jack Montoucet would have authority to close the season when it becomes clear the recreational sector nears its annual quota.

• And for all those tens of thousands of recreational anglers waiting for word on proposed changes in the speckled trout regulations, you’re likely going to have to wait. It’s not that the folks at LDWF charged with compiling the info and results from the weeks-ago statewide hearings haven’t been working; they have. They just need the chance to present their information to the commission, and without the ability to convene public meetings, there’s little chance any changes will go into effect before early 2021.

About trout

Talking with dozens of coastal fishermen during the past two months, it’s worth repeating a proposal: If your preference was retaining the 25-trout daily creel and boosting the minimum size to 14 inches, then put that in practice this year. If you wanted to retain the 12-inch minimum size, and go to 12 or 15 fish per day, then do that.

They’re watching

When it comes to staying within the state fishing limits and amidst COVID-19 restrictions, know full well the LDWF’s Enforcement Division is on the job.

• Four men from the far southeast parishes were cited for using skimmers during a closed shrimp season in Black Bay, and, besides fines and possible jail time, could lose their licenses if found guilty — all for a total of 175 pounds of shrimp.

• Four men from the Acadiana area were cited for illegal possession of alligators and face hefty fines and civil restitution penalties.

• Two Grant Parish men were cited for shooting deer in a closed season, and they were discovered when agents used surveillance video at a household dump site showing the men dumping a deer carcass.

Fishing

It’s no big secret about how productive the Atchafalaya Basin levees are for bass these days. Folks are working levee banks from Morgan City north to Ramah and beyond now that water temperatures along the grassy levees have hit 62-65 degrees and bass have moved into the spots to spawn. Be aware: Virtually all of the levees are posted lands, and you cannot walk the levees if you do not have permission for that specific area.

• Bass and redfish are solid in the MRGO and Intracoastal Waterway areas from Lake Borgne east to the MRGO.

• The trout bite is on in Grand isle-Fourchon waters. The curfew on Grand Isle runs 6 p.m.-9 a.m.

• Bluegill and catfish continue to run the north flats on False River. Use nightcrawlers.

• Terry Jones said the Caernarvon Bass Trail will resume June 6, with events July 11 and Aug. 1 and the championship Sept. 5-6.

• The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has set a 9-11 a.m. webinar meeting for May 12 with an emphasis on “...procedures for making motions and voting during Council meetings, and discuss plans for a full council meeting in June. Public comment will be taken from 10-11 a.m. You must register on the GMFMC’s website (gulfcouncil.org) to voice public comment.

And the GMFMC is asking fishermen and divers for information “...about what they have observed, including any 'strange things' that scientists and managers may need to know.”

Work on greater amberjack stock assessment is underway and federal and state fisheries biologists and managers want the info to “...better understand the Gulf of Mexico greater amberjack stock.”

You can go to the tool labeled “Something’s Fishy with Greater Amberjack” on the GMFMC website by May 25 to report your amberjack observations.

Need more? Email Emily Muehlstein: Emily.Muehlstein@gulfcouncil.org.

Hunters’ donations

Final numbers from the 2019-2020 Hunters for the Hungry drive are in, and with the hunting season’s Freshly Harvested Game Program and last fall’s Clean Out Your Freezer Day, hunters across the state provided enough for more than 250,000 meals for the needy in every corner of Louisiana.

“It truly is a team effort. Between the sportsmen, the food banks, the numerous agencies, our sponsors, and the participating processors, Hunters For The Hungry continues to grow and feed more people who face food insecurity in the state of Louisiana,” H4H board president Chip Songy said.

Pat on the back

This week it goes to Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, who donated 1 million face masks to healthcare workers across the country through Convoy of Hope.

With Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs and Cabela’s in Gonzales, it meant the Baton Rouge General and Our Lady of the Lake Ascension received a combined 20,000 face masks.

A demain, mes amis

After using nightcrawlers to catch big bluegill and channel catfish Friday on False River, famed outdoors writer Pat McManus' line quoted in “The Angler’s Book of Favorite Fishing Quotations,” is apropos: “There is no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm.”