What Fourth of July holiday isn’t complete without adding a little red, white and blue to the day?
Try this, “red” snapper broiled or grilled your favorite way, with a topping of Louisiana “white” shrimp and Louisiana “blue” crabs.
If you’ve paid attention, and listened to reports from the recreational angling community, red snapper are relatively easy to come by if you have a large enough boat, have a friend with a large enough boat (and are willing to share gas, ice, etc. expenses), or get on a charter.
Judging from the shrimp sheds, white shrimp appear to be in good supply, although from Wildlife and Fisheries’ reports, the recently ended spring inshore shrimp season — a mostly brown shrimp harvest — is well below average.
And blue crab landings are on the same downward spiral this year.
State Fisheries Section biologists are working on the premise that the extraordinarily lengthy Mississippi River flow — and the opening on the Bonnet Carre Spillway for the third time in the last four years — is the culprit for the declining catch of brown shrimp and crabs.
Last week, Gov. John Bel Edwards sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce seeking federal aid to compensate the state for this lingering high-water problem affecting most of the state’s coast — remember the Bonnet Carre pushes water into the Pontchartrain Basin and the still-high Atchafalaya River affects most areas from the Terrebonne through the Mermentau basins.
During Monday’s Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting, LDWF assistant secretary Patrick Banks said biologists and staff continue to assess the high-water affects on crabs, oysters, shrimp and finfish.
Despite heavy cloud cover and intermittent rain through the morning, the sac-a-lait in the Verret Basin stayed in deep cover.
Usually clouds — the lack of sun-caused shade — will keep sac-a-lait in the shallows into the midmorning, even during the summer, but if the guys on Tuesday’s venture into the Charlieville area near Stephensville — the run from the Car Wash Landing into Belle River — didn’t set slip corks to near four-feet deep, there wasn’t a chance of getting a sac-a-lait to look at a live shiner.
Oh, but the catfish did when the shiners were presented at a shallower depths. There were enough catfish to make a great family fish fry, and the big sac-a-lait would add a splendid topping to to the crispy catfish fillets.
We caught sac-a-lait up to two pounds (most of the 25 kept pushed one pound) and the channel cats were healthy and game fighters on light line. The bass and lone bluegill taken were returned to the water, and there was on spotted bass that pushed three pounds.
Seeing Larry Doiron earlier this week, and hearing of his family’s late-June offshore adventure touched off a celebration for the Federal Exempted Fishing Permit and the recreational red snapper season.
“We caught four red snapper that went 25 pounds each,” Doiron said outside his Stephensville store.
“We were fishing deep. That’s where the big snapper are living,” he said. “And I'm talking about fishing in 400 feet of water. That’s a lot of cranking to get these big snapper to the boat.”
The trick for bringing big snapper from those depths, Doiron said, is to use 300-pound-test braided line, which can be spooled on deep-sea reels in greater quantity than using heavy 130-pound-test monofilament.
And you have to have the corresponding heavy terminal tackle.
Doiron showed a photo of a giant amberjack, which they had to release — the AJ season is closed until Aug. 1 — and he said the family is planning a Fourth of July trip to fish for yellowfin tuna.
“I can’t wait. My daughter (Molly) is always with me on these trips, and she’s gonna catch a big yellowfin,” Doiron said.
Doiron said plans for this holiday weekend offshore trip was spurred by a check of the weather.
As of late Tuesday, the forecast for deep-sea waters off the state’s Central Coast called for Thursday’s 5-10 knot north winds — and 1-2 foot seas — to shift to 5-10 knot east winds Friday, then 5-knot southeast winds Saturday with seas calming to less than one foot.
Be mindful these conditions come with hot temperatures, so stay hydrated through any trip, and know there’s a chance of showers and thunderstorms throughout these days.