Catfish biting in Lake Verret

Advocate staff photo by JOE MACALUSOCaldwell Carter shows off the speckled trout she caught in the rainy, windy conditions during Saturday's final day of the 65th annual Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo. This trout weighed a little more than two pounds, but wasn't heavy enough to make the final leaderboard in the rodeo's Children's Division. She also weighed a 12-ounce white trout that stood in second place when the scales closed. Like the other youngsters competing during two days of miserable weather, the 5-year-old from Baton Rouge donned a parka and, said dad Rennie Carter,
Advocate staff photo by JOE MACALUSOCaldwell Carter shows off the speckled trout she caught in the rainy, windy conditions during Saturday's final day of the 65th annual Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo. This trout weighed a little more than two pounds, but wasn't heavy enough to make the final leaderboard in the rodeo's Children's Division. She also weighed a 12-ounce white trout that stood in second place when the scales closed. Like the other youngsters competing during two days of miserable weather, the 5-year-old from Baton Rouge donned a parka and, said dad Rennie Carter, "She fished hard and fished in the rain."

It’s not enough to say that catfish are biting in Lake Verret, because what’s happened in the past week is that the channel catfish in and around that venerated lake is somewhere between biting and jumping in the boat.

And when a woman in your office proudly announces that she’s discovered a new catfish bait, and you find out it’s mini-marshmallows, then you know something’s going on.

The bug-a-boo for a handful of fishermen who complained — and there were complaints — was that they went out with a basket of crickets with all the intentions of bringing home bluegill, goggle-eye and/or chinquapin, but came home with enough catfish to feed their family and neighbors up and down the street. So the fish fry went off as planned.

It didn’t seem to matter where, except that every Verret veteran knows the affinity all Lake Verret fish have to the deep sides of cypress trees at this time of year. Even in the canals off the lake (but not far off the lake) — the most popular in the Crackerhead system on the lake’s east side — catfish hovered around cypress, cypress stumps and downed trees.

Moving water was another key, and last weekend’s winds helped move water: When there wasn’t tidal movement, there was wind. And the points near the mouths of the canals provided another hot spot, especially where there were logs, brush and grassbeds near enough to each other to provide dissolved oxygen (the grass) and good ambush spots (logs and brush).

If crickets and marshmallows aren’t enough of a choice, then inexpensive hot dogs cut into three-quarter-inch pieces then spiked with anise oil, nightcrawlers dug from compost piles, stinky cheese, pieces of cut bream and market shrimp are enough to give any fishermen a wide range of baiting options.

Every report had the best bite coming on bait 18-to-24 inches under a cork. The only problem was that leaving an exposed hook invited hang-ups on the nearest structure.

Just remember there are size and creel limits on catfish. Channel cats, the kind you’re more likely to encounter in the Verret Basin, have an 11-inch minimum size total length. It’s 12 inches for blue cats and 14 inches for flathead catfish.

There’s a 100-per-day limit in the aggregate of these three species and allows 25 undersized cats among their catch.

Up next week

A special Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting is set for Wednesday, July 17 in New Orleans to “review and take final action on the framework” for what federal fishery managers call “Acceptable Biological Catch” for red snapper.

Public comment will be taken from 9:30 a.m.-noon at the Hilton Riverside Hotel on Poydras Street.

The GMFMC release further stated that after receiving data from the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee, “The Council agreed to initiate a Framework Action to Establish 2013 Red Snapper Quotas and a Supplemental Recreational Red Snapper Season,” a move that could open another recreational red snapper season in the Gulf this year.

With the five Gulf States doing more catch surveys and data analyses in shorter time frames than the federal fishery managers have said they can perform, state biologists across the five states are lining up to testify that the recreational red snapper catch likely is over-reported that red snapper stocks are under-reported.

The GMFMC will also discuss possible changes to the commercial Individual Fishing Quota Program for the red snapper. The changes come after mandatory review in the five years since the IFQ was instituted in the Gulf of Mexico.

Also up for discussion is red snapper allocation, a move that determines which sectors get what share of the stocks in the Gulf. The current plan give commercials 51 percent of the annual allocation and 49 percent to recreational anglers.

The GMFMC also will tackle rules for what federal managers call “Headboat Electronic Reporting Requirements.” Headboats are charters that take anglers without the need of a specific charter date. Fishermen show up at docks, mostly in Florida and Alabama, and for a per-head fee, fish for a day. If passed, headboats must report to ensure fishing effort, landings and make sure information for managed fish stocks are recorded accurately and in a timely manner.

YJC deadline extended

The deadline for young writers and photographers to enter the Louisiana Outdoor Writers’ Association’s annual Youth Journalism Contest has been extended to Tuesday, July 16.

There are three categories, Junior Essay (ages 7-13), Senior Essay (ages 4-18) and Photography (ages 7-18).

Essays must be an original, unpublished writing, 300-1,000 words, about a personal hunting, fishing, boating, camping, hiking or other related outdoor activity experience. Essays must be typed, preferably with double-spaced lines. Submitted photographs must be an original, unpublished black-and-white or color photo sized 4x6, 5x7 or 8x10 inches.

Send entries to Joe Macaluso, Advocate Outdoors, P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0588.