Weather delays duck numbers

Photo provided by BRYAN DAYTerrific first huntMichael Day, an 11-year-old St. Thomas More Catholic fifth-grader, shows off most of the limit he took with four older hunters on his first duck hunt on the next-to-last weekend of the state's East Zone duck season. His dad, Bryan, said the photo is proof of what made up most of the take in the Tensas-area hunt. Greenheads, the nickname for mallard drakes, made up most of the birds, which also included gray ducks, pintails and teal along with a single scaup. Show caption
Photo provided by BRYAN DAYTerrific first huntMichael Day, an 11-year-old St. Thomas More Catholic fifth-grader, shows off most of the limit he took with four older hunters on his first duck hunt on the next-to-last weekend of the state's East Zone duck season. His dad, Bryan, said the photo is proof of what made up most of the take in the Tensas-area hunt. Greenheads, the nickname for mallard drakes, made up most of the birds, which also included gray ducks, pintails and teal along with a single scaup.

The continued string of bad weather earlier this month has delayed the state’s January migratory waterfowl survey.

State Waterfowl Study leader Larry Reynolds said Thursday the aerial look-see would be completed by the end of the week, and we’d know what that Department of Wildlife and Fisheries group found when he issued the final survey report of the season.

With Sunday’s final day of the East Zone duck season moving hunters from their blinds until the special teal season rolls around in September (the Coastal and West zones closed last Sunday), most hunters can make a pretty good guess at what the survey will tell.

“We had a great first split,” hunter Donnie Thibodeaux said, “but the second split was a lot of hit and miss...birds one day and gone the next, or a string of days when there were no birds at all.”

Thibodeaux hunts the marshes out west of Abbeville, the easternmost boundary of the state’s southwestern parishes rice fields and coastal marshes.

Similar reports came from the marshes around Calcasieu Lake, Catahoula Lake, the rice fields in the northeastern parishes and the brakes and flooded timber areas in the east-central areas between Jonesville and the Mississippi River. Reports from the marshes around the lower Mississippi River were, to use Thibodeaux’s words, hit and miss all season.

“We’d see huge flights of gray ducks and pintails one day, then maybe a few teal and ringnecks the next,” Thibodeaux said. “And all the rain we had in the first 15 or 18 days of the month (January) didn’t help because it scattered the ducks all over the state, and sent some of them into Texas that had no water in the first weeks of the season.”

Canal closure

Steve Landry said a canal off Grand Bayou near the sinkhole site off La. 70 will be closed until further notice.

Landry said signs will be posted at the entrance of the canal to warn boaters that methane gas is in the area. He said the canal is the first one on the western side of Grand Bayou coming from Bayou Corne.

“There are two blowouts and there’s a lot of methane gas hovering over the water,” Landry said. “I checked it a month ago and there was no gas, but there’s a blowout near the front of the canal and another from a pit in the back of the canal.”

Landry said the canal is a popular fishing spot, and any spark or open flame could touch off the accumulated methane gas.

“We don’t want anybody to get blown up back there,” Landry said, adding the signs will be taken down and the canal reopened as soon as the danger from the methane gas clears the area.

White Lake fishing

Feb. 22 is the deadline for applications for a lottery drawing for fishing access to the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area.

WCA administrator Wayne Sweeney said there will be 100 special fishing permits issued for the area. The permits are good from March 15-Aug. 15 in the Florence Canal and oil-field location canals off of the Florence Canal. The area is south of Gueydan in Vermilion Parish.

A $5 fee must accompany each application, and when drawn, lottery winners must purchase the permits for $40. There’s a limit of one application per fisherman.

Fishermen will be restricted to boats with 40-horsepower or less outboard engines.

Mail applications to Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Attention: White Lake Fishing, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898, or return them to Room 422, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries headquarters, 2000 Quail Dr., Baton Rouge.

To obtain an application, call the LDWF at (225) 765-2812, or download a copy from the department’s website: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/refuge/white-lake-wetlands-conservations-area.