The Wild Side for Feb. 3, 2013

Sadly, hyperbole has become a fixture among modern news media, you know the tendency toward exaggerating and sensationalizing today’s news to make it much larger and seemingly more important than yesterday’s reports.

Maybe that’s why we older folks tend to stay away from qualitative terms like “greatest,” “best” and “biggest” in our stories, because we were taught that superlative annotations belong in select company, and usually there’s only one greatest, one best.

But when it comes to considering what’s on the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission’s agenda for Thursday’s meeting, there might never have been a more important meeting in the 20-plus years of covering this seven-member group, at least not for fishermen.

About the only other meeting with equal stature was back in the early 1990s, when the LWFC voted to reduce the limit on redfish to five a day with a 16-inch minimum size and restrictions on reds longer than 27 inches for a species that just three years before had no daily nor size limits.

Thursday, the commission will take a second step in the process of defying limitations imposed by the federal government for the recreational take of red snapper.

And the LWFC will act on a Notice of Intent to change 20-year-old regulations on the size and creel limits of black bass in the extraordinarily popular fishing waters of the Atchafalaya Spillway, the Belle River-Lake Verret basin area and Lake Fausse Pointe.

While the redfish limits drew fire among saltwater anglers, nothing rises close to the bloody gill nets-ban battles of the mid-1990s — yes, fistfights and other confrontations drew blood.

But nothing compares to the building swell of anti-government sentiment among fishermen like this red snapper issue especially for the folks who venture off Louisiana’s coast.

They’ve seen a species some anglers specifically target and most folks like to catch, take home and eat reduced from year-round action to a summer-long season, then to 50 days, to 47 days and this year to a proposed 27-day season all with 16-inch minimum size.

They’ve seen those reductions amid personal visual experiences that tells them there are more red snapper off Louisiana’s coast than they’ve seen anytime in their fishing lives.

And they’ve seen that summer after summer for the last five years, only to be told that red snapper stocks continue fall into the “recovery” category by federal biologists.

The commission already has voted to establish new red snapper seasons off Louisiana’s coast — three-day weekends beginning March 22 — and to extend the state’s waters more than 10 miles into the Gulf of Mexico.

This would put Louisiana in “noncompliance” status with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s planned June 1-27 season, and that alone possibly makes Thursday’s meeting the most important ever.