Winter bass tourney shows big haul

When it comes to wintertime fishing, bass anglers expect to see a few big fish, but nothing like what Corey Wheat and David Cavell had to start the Media Bass-South Louisiana circuit.

Fishing out of Bayou Black Marina on Sunday, the two die-hard bass fishermen put together a five-bass effort weighing 20.11 pounds.

And they needed every ounce on that hefty stringer, because Joey Zimmer and Cody Roper teamed to bring in a five-fish, 19-pound limit.

Cavell said they started in Orange Grove, an area of canals off the Intracoastal Canal south of the Gibson-area launch, and they were casting spinnerbaits.

“We had a limit by 8 (a.m.) ... four keepers and good 4-1/2 pounder,” Cavell said. “But the fishing was slow and we decided to stay off the bank and that’s where we got the bigger bites.”

Cavell said some bass rose to buzzbaits and other boats in the area were “punching lilies (water hyacinths) and flipping and catching fish, but the (bigger) fish were on the second line of grass (off the banks).”

That situation is common after the odd run of January conditions that brought extended days of cloud cover, rain and downright chilly weather followed by last week’s run of sunlight and 70-degree afternoons.

It meant that the smaller male bass had moved to shallower water in search of spawning areas, while the heavier female bass moved from deeper water to staging areas to await the just-right water temperatures and the just-right moon phase to join their partners for the spawn.

“We were flipping, too, and Corey started to put on a show,” Cavell said. “I caught the first five fish, but then Corey caught a giant about every hour and a half to improve our weight. We were using a Missile Bait D-Bomb (California Love color) and working it slowly around the grass.”

In the 80-boat field, it took 13.3 pounds to make 15th place and take home prize money.

The team of Eric Weaver and Jackie Villar had the day’s big bass, a 5.88-pounder that helped them finish fourth overall (17.3 pounds) behind the third-place team of Eric Smith and Nolan Gaskin (17.58).

Turkey dates clarified

Warning: The dates listed in the 2012-2013 Louisiana Hunting Regulations are different from the 2013 Louisiana Turkey Hunting pamphlet for hunters planning to hunt Army Corps of Engineers properties in Concordia, Pointe Coupee and West Feliciana parishes.

The Turkey season pamphlet contains the correct dates — March 23-April 7 — and hunters should disregard the dates printed in the 2012-2013 regulations book.

To check on all spring turkey hunting dates, hunters can go to the Department of Wildlife & Fisheries’ website: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/regulations.

Pearl River reopened

The LDWF announced this week that the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area is opened to hunting after the WMA was closed Jan. 11 because of high-water conditions.

LDWF rules mandate closing the Old U.S. 11 access to this WMA when the Pearl River reaches the 16.5-foot mark at the Town of Pearl River. This access point was reopened, but the LDWF announcement indicated Oil Well Road remains closed until water levels recede and road repairs are made.

Larto-Saline structure fails

More news late Tuesday from the LDWF is bad news for sac-a-lait fishermen who flock to the Larto-Saline Complex near Jonesville in the late winter and early spring.

LDWF staff members said a section of the Cross Bayou Weir collapsed earlier this week and Larto-Saline water levels have fallen and will continue to fall, maybe by as much as 6 feet, until the complex’s water level equals that of the Black River.

The failed weir is described by the LDWF as “a low-water dam designed to allow inflow of beneficial Black River water.”

LDWF Inland Fisheries administrator Mike Wood said this weir and structures at Long Branch and Open Mouth Bayou are keys to improved fishing in the Larto-Saline Complex since the 1980s. Plans are to begin repairs as soon as possible.

NOAA’s free charts

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration announced this week it has moved its Coast Survey’s experimental BookletCharts from what it called the “experimental stage into official production.”

These nautical charts, now numbering nearly a thousand updated chart books covering 95,000 miles of coastline and the Great Lakes, can be downloaded and printed on home computers. And they’re free.

“It is especially appropriate that we unveil these easy-to-use nautical charts as recreational boaters begin to think about their boating adventures for 2013,” Coast Survey’s Navigation Services Branch chief Capt. Jon Swallow said.

“NOAA’s nautical charts help to protect lives and property, and boaters should take advantage of these free nautical products.”

The charts are availableNOAA BookletCharts website: http://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/staff/BookletChart.html.

More maps

Planning a hiking or camping trip?

How about visiting any of a number of the U.S.’ wilderness areas?

Or foreign countries?

Christine Simmons sent word that outdoors folks now have access to more than 500 National Geographic maps through iTunes via Avenza’s PDF Maps application.

Simmons said this application allows travelers on five continents to access maps offline while still being GPS interactive with mobile devices without roaming charges.

“It’s a new way to travel especially in an unfamiliar country, hiking through mountains, flying or boating — places where there usually is no cell reception,” Simmons said.

She said the Avenza PDF Maps app allows viewing, acquiring and interacting with maps on mobile devices, including iPhone and iPad, without concerns about data accessibility and international roaming charges.

PDF Maps app is available now on the iTunes App Store free for personal use. National Geographic maps can be accessed via the PDF Maps in-app store.

Check out these websites: http://www.pdf-maps.com or http://www.avenza.com. Prices for other maps are set by publishers, while free maps are listed on the PDF Maps in-app map store.