The Wild Side: La. fires shot across council bow

What’s getting ready to happen Saturday along coastal Louisiana is, in the fishing world, a clear shot across the bow of the federal fisheries bureaucracy.

Our state will open a recreational red snapper season in open defiance to the proposed June 1 start of a 27-day recreational red snapper season in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Our state’s decision to establish its own framework doesn’t come close to Texas’ years-long, utter disregard for the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s often-reduced recreational seasons.

Texas leaves its state waters open all year.

There’s a bigger rub here: Texas came into the Union with a 9-mile state-waters limit, while the feds recognize Louisiana’s 3-mile limit.

That’s out the window, too, after our Wildlife and Fisheries Commission endorsed a legislative move to push state waters out to a fisheries-only 10.357 miles.

There’s little to argue that fishermen off our state’s coast are cheated by the GMFMC’s shortened recreational red snapper seasons, not to mention the two-fish daily limit, when there’s overwhelming data proving there are more red snapper off our coast than anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico.

The fact that GMFMC surveyors don’t study red snapper populations around reefs (mostly oil platforms) off our coast only proves the council’s constantly reduced seasons and low daily limits have little basis in fact and, for the council’s closest watchers and critics, proves the system the council uses is unusable, or maybe downright anti-recreational.

With Congress getting ready to debate the reauthorization of the Magnusson-Stevens Act, which guides all federal fisheries managers, and a push from most in the Gulf State’s delegations for the federal government to recognize a gulf-wide, 9-mile state-boundary waters, it’s possible our state’s shot across the bow will begin a process for more acceptable fisheries regulations, and reduce the power the federal folks managing our fisheries, not just here but across the country.

Seniors only

Wayne Tucker is heading up Friday’s annual Seniors Bass Tournament at Pisano’s on La. 70 at Belle River.

The idea is to bring the guys who started bass tournaments around here together for a reunion.

You have to be 55 or older. Registration at Pisano’s begins at 5:30 a.m. and the fishing area is limited to waters north of U.S. 90. There’s a $55 entry fee and most of that money pool is returned to the top teams and the big-bass catchers. Weigh-in time is noon, and Kevin Diez will have a jambalaya lunch.

For more, call Tucker (337) 254-1300.

For you, Ed

Longtime colleague Ed Cullen retired Friday. We’ve known each other for 40 years, and I don’t know of any man who lives to catch fish more in as many different ways as there is to catch fish. Ed prefers fly and ultralight tackle.

Tight lines, my friend. Tight lines.