New regulations for the tens of thousands of bass fishermen who take to the Atchafalaya Basin and surrounding waters will be in place later this month after Thursday’s Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission voted to change more than 20 years of regulations.
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries confirmed Friday that the effective date for removing existing minimum-size limits and lower the daily creel limits for black bass in these waters is June 20, the day the new regulations are posted in the State Register.
The new rules do away with the 14-inch minimu size limit on taking black bass from the Atchafalaya River Basin, Lake Verret, the Lake Palourde Complex; and the Lake Fausse Point/Lake Dauterive Complex as outlined in the notice the LWFC ratified during its June meeting in Baton Rouge.
The LWFC also agrees with LDWF Inland Fisheries Section chief Mike Wood who said his staff recommended a lowering of the daily creel in these waters from 10 to 7 for a two-year period.
Wood said the two years who allow the staff assigned to the Atchafalaya area to study the effect of eliminating the length limit. Wood said after two years, the recommended daily creel likely will be 10 to match the daily limit on most all waterbodies in the state.
Anglers and groups like the East Ascension Sportsman League and the Louisiana Wildlife Federation asked for changes in the size limit and Wood said his staff responded with what he called, “an extensive, three-year study (that) examined the effectiveness of the regulation as a management tool.”
The 14-inch limit rule came in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 that wiped out fish populations in the Atchafalaya Basin and the Lake Verret Basin, and implementation of that rule followed a three-year Inland Fisheries Section study that showed a 12-inch-long bass might have spawned once, but that a 14-inch bass had spawned twice.
Bass fishermen asked for that study in the last 1980s when they had trouble finding and catching bass in the vast Atchafalaya, the country’s largest overflow swamp.
Wood told the commission Thursday that the recent findings showed “the Atchafalaya Basin largemouth bass population does not exhibit necessary criteria for which a 14-inch minimum length limit would produce larger bass.”
He added that the study indicated that Atchafalaya Basin bass populations are more heavily influenced by environmental factors that included water fluctuation during spring floods and the effects of tropical storms. He said fishermen’s take had a much lesser effect.
Diehard Gonzales fisherman Ryan Lavigne came in with his third-straight five-bass limit to outpace two Louisiana teammates to take the state’s spot in the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship set for Arkansas’ Lake Dardanelle in late October.
Lavigne finished fifth overall in the B.A.S.S. National Central Division tournament that finished a three-day run Frday on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in east Texas. His three-day total was 37 pounds, 10 ounces and just ahead of Prairieville’s David Cavell, who finished sixth with 36-2 and Gonzales’ Jamie Laiche, who was seventh at 36 pound-even.
In all, eight states send their teams to the Central Division tournament, which qualifies each state’s top angler for the national championship. Five other divisional tournament sent their state’s individual champions along with champions from five countries to the national tournament. In turn, the B.A.S.S. Nation awarded the top anglers from the six divisions with a berth in 2014 Bassmaster Classic set for Birmingham, Ala., in February.
Nacogdoches, Texas,’ Albert Collins was the overall winner with a 15-bass catch weighing 53-4.
The Louisiana team, with those three top 10 places, won the team title for the second consecutive year, and the fifth in the past six years. The winning total was 301-12 to Texas’ runnerup 280-15.
Randy Ladner of Bay St. Louis claimed Mississippi’s spot in the nationals with a 38-11 total.
With state and federal enforcement agents and biologists still looking for the culprit, the reward for information leading to an arrest in the shooting death of a whooping crane has been upped to $10,000.
The whooping crane, part of a restocking effort in Vermilion Parish, was found shot by a 6.5 mm bullet in Red River Parish. The LDWF is asking anyone with information about the whooping crane shooting to call (800) 442-2511.