Spillway bass limit changing

Atchafalaya Spillway bass fishermen who’ve been clamoring for a change in size limits for most of the past decade will get their wishes later this month after the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission ratified new regulations for the area during its monthly meeting Thursday.

The new regulations eliminate a minimum-size limit for taking black bass, but imposed a seven-bass daily limit for waters in the Atchafalaya Basin, the Lake Verret Basin (including Lake Palourde) and the Lake Fausse Point-Lake Dauterive complex on the western side of the Atchafalaya Basin.

The vote erased the 20-year-old 14-inch minimum-size limit and a 10-bass per day creel limit.

Though an effective date was not outlined in the posted notice, the new regulations must be posted in the State Register before it can take effect. The rule will be posted in the June 20 State Register, which would be the first date the new regulations would cover taking black bass throughout this area.

The commission also honored several long-serving Department of Wildlife and Fisheries employees upon their retirement. Notable among them were Enforcement Division chief Col. Winton Vidrine and License Section administrator Janice Landry. Also retiring is LDWF undersecretary Lois Azzarello.

Vidrine had just completed his 43rd year with the department, the past 23 as the head of the Enforcement Division. Col. Jeff Mayne was named his replacement.

Other LWFC action included:

Learning that marine biologists continue to investigate a redfish kill in Breton Sound. The kill was first reported May 13 and dead redfish were found in the area for the next four days. LDWF assistant secretary Randy Pausina said the menhaden industry reported there were no boats working in that area during the kill, and his staff was awaiting the results of tissue samples sent to a LSU lab;

Learning that the Marine Fisheries Section has determined that shell and rock pads were found around platforms in the Ship Shoal 26 block, a place anglers call “The Pickets,” located west of Caillou Boca and southwest of Cocodrie. Apache Corporation owns the platforms and agreed to delay dismantling the structures until the LDWF could come up with a plan to enhance the shell and rock pads to ensure their viability to continue as reefs that hold speckled trout and redfish;

Hearing reports from Pausina about the new Gulfwide 28-day recreational red snapper season after Louisiana and Texas won their suit against federal fishery managers and updates on the state’s Louisiana Saltwater Series fishing tournaments;

Hearing that the Inland Fisheries completed an outline of the boundaries for Lake D’Arbonne for the lake’s new sac-a-lait regulations;

Learning from DU-Canada vice-president Pat Kehoe that Louisiana’s $300,000-plus donation served as the basis for more than $1.2 million in prairie Canada wetland projects, and that sufficient snowfall over the prairielands have filled the potholes with water for the duck-breeding season;

Learning that upland biologists will offer a Sept. 7 opener for both North and South zones for the upcoming dove hunting season, and that biologist will offer a March 22 opener for the state’s three zones for the 2014 spring turkey season;

And, voting its Aug. 1 meeting for the Marine Science Lab on Grand Isle, and its October meeting for Oct. 3 in Baton Rouge.