East, west line to shift; coastal region added
The first major change in the zones for Louisiana waterfowl hunters in more than three decades came during Thursday’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting.
Instead of the long-standing two waterfowl zones, the state will have three — East, West and Coastal — at least through the 2015-2016 hunting seasons.
The change proposed by State Waterfowl Study leader Larry Reynolds came from a complicated procedure involving mail-out and website surveys and delineation of long-held boundary lines dividing what will be the three zones.
The major shift was to move the boundaries between East and West zones.
The boundary between these zones will move from near the Shreveport-Bossier City area east to U.S. 167 at the Louisiana-Arkansas state line south to La. 106, then west along La. 106/La. 10 to Oakdale, then south on U.S. 165 to Kinder, then west along U.S. 190 and La. 12 to the Louisiana-Texas state line.
The East Zone will be everything east of that line from the point where U.S. 167 continues south of the intersection with La. 106 across U.S. 190 and Interstate 10 to U.S. 90, then continue along U.S. 90 east into Orleans Parish to the Louisiana-Mississippi state line.
All areas south of those lines will be in the newly created Coastal Zone.
Because the East Zone takes in the entire Atchafalaya Basin, Reynolds labeled the plan “The Atchafalaya Dip.”
Saturday, Reynolds also cleared up some confusion about the new boundaries, especially with regard to the areas around Lake Pontchartrain, which, in the original plan, was in the Coastal Zone.
Acting on data from the two surveys, the commission accepted, then approved a change to keep lands north of U.S. 90 in the southeastern parishes in the East Zone.
“It was the only place in the state where 50 percent of the hunters chose no change in their seasons,” Reynolds said about the responses from hunters along Pontchartrain’s north shore. “And the original plan divided three additional wildlife management areas between two (East and Coastal) zones and the (Wildlife and Fisheries) Enforcement Division wasn’t happy in having more WMAs in separate zones.”
Reynolds said the change basically means no change for those hunters because U.S. 90 was the dividing line between the old East-West zone configuration hunters had been using for 10 years.
“The response from hunters in that area is the reason the dividing line remained (U.S.) Highway 90,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds will propose alternatives for 2012-2013 season dates for each of the three zones at the commission’s July 2 meeting.
Final approval for waterfowl hunting dates is set for the Commission’s August meeting in Baton Rouge after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service releases framework for the duck- and goose-hunting seasons in late July.
Hunting seasons for migratory birds, species like mourning doves and woodcock and early seasons on teal, rails and gallinules will be outlined at the LWFC’s July 2 meeting.
For the guys who planned — the folks who left the docks during Thursday’s lull in what looks like the beginning of a monsoon season — this weekend’s Swollfest Fishing Rodeo was a success.
Three teams of anglers brought in enough fish Friday afternoon to the Sand Dollar Marina weighstation to make any rodeo a success.
Complete Swollfest results will be in Thursday’s Advocate Outdoors.
Despite sometimes violent weather, complete with an early Friday morning waterspout off Elmer’s Island, Swollest chief Nick Rauber said he knew the rodeo would hit all the right marks.
“We here to have a good time, to catch fish and to help two worth causes, Muscular Dystrophy Association and the American Diabetes Association,” Rauber said.
“That’s what makes this rodeo successful no matter the weather.”
While Oklahoman Dale Hightower made the long trip to the Atchafalaya Spillway to take the overall title Friday in the Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Central Divisional, it was the Louisiana team, led by Jason Pecoraro that took home a big prize from the three-day event out of Morgan City.
Hightower led Oklahoma’s team, and qualified for the Federal Nation’s National Championship with a three-day, 15-bass catch weighing 39 pounds, 7 ounces.
Pecoraro’s run at Hightower fell one pound short of the individual lead, but it was enough to give him Louisiana’s berth in the nationals.
Louisiana’s team brought in 328 pounds, 2 ounces to claim the team title and take home a Skeeter bass boat rigged out with a 150-Yamaha, Minn Kota trolling motor and Humminbird electronics.
Ryan Lavigne was second on Louisiana’s list, while Oklahoma finished second more than 100 pounds behind the winning host team.
Next in line were Kansas, Missouri and Texas, which, like Oklahoma went home with cash awards. Arkansas, Mississippi and Nebraska filled out the field.
The top anglers from each state team qualified for the nationals, which brings state qualifiers from six regions to Wheeler Lake in Alabama on Oct. 25-27.
From there the top finishers from each region will earn a spot in February’s Bassmaster Classic set for Grand Lake of the Cherokees near Tulsa, Okla.
Chapman at The Bend
Kansas angler Brent Chapman extracted more than 41 pounds of largemouth bass from a single school of fish Friday and Saturday to hold the lead going into Sunday’s final round of the Bassmaster Elite Series on Toledo Bend.
Chapman’s three-day total is 59 pounds, 14 ounces, and tops the 12 anglers for the final round.
Gonzales’ Greg Hackney is sixth in the field, just a little more than four pounds back.
The only other Louisiana angler in the field, Cliff Crochet, did not make the cut to the top 50 after the first two fishing days.