The Wild Side for May 6, 2012

Making a move, even proposing a move, like the one Thursday during the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission’s meeting likely will spark national attention for weeks and months.

Yes, the commission approved a Notice of Intent to institute a 2013 recreational red snapper season in state waters.

OK, so the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council hasn’t set the dates nor daily limits for that recreational season, but it’s easy to believe that it won’t been too much different than the continued and very restrictive 40-day/June 1-July 10, two-red snapper-per-day season the council set for this year.

The proposed 2013 state-waters-only red snapper season faces a 120-day comment period before it could be ratified during the commission’s Sept. 6 meeting in Baton Rouge.

The proposal includes:

Weekend-only recreational fishing beginning the Saturday before Palm Sunday each year (March 23 in 2013) and run the final weekend ending on or before September 30 that same year;

The “weekend” was further defined as Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Exceptions will be made for the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends when recreational catch will be allowed Friday through Monday;

The recreational limit will be three red snapper per day, and each snapper must measure at least 16 inches long.

But there was more, much more.

The pot was stirred to a boiling point with an agenda item taken up before the 2013 snapper-season proposition.

Department of Wildlife and Fisheries secretary Robert Barham extracted a portion of a Act 336 of the 2011 State Legislature — the act also carries Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signature — to extend state waters from the current three-mile limit to the act’s stated three marine leagues limit, a move that would push state waters out to 10.357 miles.

Barham was clear in the intent to make this a “fishing-only” boundary.

Wow and why!

Clearly this would open untold square miles to the recreational take of red snapper.

It also would allow state marine biologists to take control of the management of those fish species in state waters, a move that’s gaining strength among the five Gulf of Mexico states as fishermen grow ever angrier with the increasingly restrictive federal fishing mandates.

Stay tuned. This is going to get very interesting.

The Old Timers

Growing in strength, too, is the annual Old Timers Bass Tournament. You have to be 55 or older to participate in Friday’s morning-only event that’s become more an old-time bass anglers’ reunion than gritty competition (although there’s still some of that, too.)

Organizer Wayne Tucker will begin registering at 5:30 a.m. at Paisano’s at Belle River. The fee is $50 with, lunch included. Call Tucker (337) 254-1300 for details.