The Wild Side for Sunday, June 24

It’s late June, and the first reminder to all fishermen is that your fishing licenses expire Friday.

That usually means a mad rush to the local license vendors to get that 2012-2013 fishing license, but it’s good to note that all recreational licenses have the same expiration date: June 30.

Just know that if you plan to fish for our Fourth of July celebration, you’ll need that new license.

The next move

With last week’s declaration that the state’s new fishing waters extend to 10.357 miles (the three marine leagues voted on at the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission’s June 7 meeting), the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries considers this new boundary as state waters, which means recreational fishermen will have to have a fishing license when fishing in this new area.

Right now, those “new” state waters don’t mean that much because most of the state’s saltwater fishing regulations, at least those species that swim beyond the old three-mile limit, are the same as the federal regs.

So, while we’ve yet to hear from Congress about the commission’s move to extend state waters for fishing, there’s still time for the drag-it-out folks in Washington, D.C., to figure out what they’re going to do in the next months.

When the match will hit the tinder is next year, long about the Saturday before Palm Sunday (March 23, 2013, to be exact), when a May 3 vote taken by the commission makes the state noncompliant with any recreational red snapper season federal marine fisheries folks decide on for 2013.

That May vote set up a Louisiana red snapper season to open for three-day weekends (Friday through Sunday) from the Saturday before Palm Sunday through the spring and summer months (until late September).

Another paragraph in that move allows for four-day weekend openings around holidays like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day.

And it carries a three-red snapper-per-day limit.

When a state season was first proposed, there were so few oil-gas platforms and reefs inside the old three-mile, state-waters limit that setting a state season (and going noncompliant) meant little in the wide, wide world of snapper fishing.

That’s not the same world now, not with the new seven-plus miles added to the state waters earlier this month.

While it’s probably a good thing to put this issue on a shelf for a few months, it’s going to get very interesting in fisheries quarters when March approaches and to see what action the other three compliant states (Texas has been noncompliant on snapper for years) take for their fishermen.

It’s especially important to note that at the halfway point in the current 40-day snapper season we’ve just come through a five-day stretch when no sane fishermen would venture out to brace 4-9 foot seas, and that making the red snapper season weekends only would leave us with 32 more snapper days this year instead of 16 days until July 10.