State adjusts red snapper season

With Saturday’s opening day of the federal recreational red snapper season near, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ secretary Robert Barham used powers granted him by the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission to adjust the state’s recreational red snapper to the season set by federal fisheries managers.

Louisiana’s recreational red snapper fishermen will have a two-fish-per-day limit for the 24-day season that begins Saturday morning throughout the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone that extends 200 miles into the Gulf of Mexico off the coasts of the five Gulf States.

That means the state’s recreational red snapper season that opened March 23 for weekends-only catches through September — and included a threee-fish-per-day limit — will be suspended until 12:01 a.m. June 25, when federal managers declared Louisiana’s season should end.

On June 25, the state will revert back to the Fridays-through-Sundays, three-per-day limit through the last full weekend in September.

The exception will be the Labor Day Weekend, when the season will run Friday through Monday.

The issue throughout the early days of this state-monitored season is that the state declared a fisheries-only boundary waters out to three marine leagues (10.357 miles) while the federal managers recognize only three miles of state boundary waters.

The 24-day Louisiana season was set last week and came after Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council director Roy Crabtree threatened Louisiana with a nine-day recreational red snapper season.

When the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries biologists extended the season to 24 days, LDWF assistant secretary Randy Pausina said the expanded days were the result of work state biologists did to study red snapper and the state’s catch rates.

“I am extremely proud of the team of biologists I work with. Because of their dedication to the resource and our local fishermen, NOAA is now working with us, instead of against us,” Pausina said.

Pausina has led the state’s fight to wrest regional management of reef fish from federal agencies.

Barham praised the work of Pausina’s staff, and an item covering modifications in the red snapper season will be on the agenda for the June 6 Wildlife and Fisheries Commission’s meeting.

“The decision by our federal counterparts to extend the Louisiana federal red snapper season was no doubt based on a combination of good, sound science provided by our biologists and the pressure we have continued to put on them,” Barham said in a news release. “These actions only strengthen our case for regional management. We will continue to show accountability, and that we have the best intentions for the resource and our recreational anglers.”

Plan B

Maybe the brand of beer mattered, or maybe it didn’t, but it was the cap from that bottle of Michelob that gave longtime New Orleans veterinarian Jack Banta and his fishing buddy Leonard Dazet something to tell the guys back on the uptown side of Carrollton Avenue.

The guys were catching redfish to beat the band in the Venice area. They ran out of shrimp, and that’s when Dazat took the bottle cap, punched a hole in it, inserted a hook, tied it to Banta’s line and caught a redfish. They already had a limit, so the redfish was released, but not before the catch was caught in a photo. Maybe this can start a Smiley Anders-like, weeks-long list of submissions by avid readers who’ll share stories like Banta and Dazet are relating these days.

Father-daughter win

Scott Comeaux coaxed his daughter Baylie into her first-every fishing tournament, and spoiled her for the rest of her life.

Despite poor weather conditions, the father-daughter team brought in the winning fish in Saturday’s Louisiana Saltwater Series’ Speckled Trout Tournament out of the Mandeville Boat Launch.

The tournament ended a week when state fisheries biologists tagged 50 more speckled trout to the special study of Lake Pontchartrain trout.