Dark clouds, bright catch for anglers

When fishermen talk about technology these days, it’s usually about the latest sonar systems, video displays and/or spot-on GPS units.

On Friday at Pointe Fourchon and Port Fourchon Marina, an old standby — radar — helped put fish in the boat.

Dr. Brent Bankston, the newly crowned admiral of the July 4-6 Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo, and rodeo board President Chris Moran, studied the TV screen and smart phones for about a half-hour near sunrise before deciding that the black clouds hovering over Belle Pass weren’t as ominous as they looked.

“Let’s go. Whadda ya think about the rocks, the barges?” Moran asked his fishing crew.

The answer was three nodding heads: Both boats had enough live bait for a long day on the water and the barges off The Fourchon were the target.

“We’re going to jump around the (Belle Pass) jetty and see what it’s like, but I think we’re going to be able to get there.”

The biggest problem were ground swells, 3-4 footers left over from Tropical Storm Andrea’s brief stay in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

The first stop, the first shrimp hooked on and the first trout was in the ice chest 10 minutes outside the jetty.

“It’s been like this for a couple of weeks now,” Moran said. “If you can get decent conditions, the fish (trout and redfish, and the dreaded gafftopsaid catfish) are on the barges and up on the beach.”

The weather report for the coming week should produce those fish-catching conditions.

Mangroves

Mangrove snapper chaser Rudy Valenciano’s early June report is in and he said his crew has started the season with several 10-pound-plus mangroves, including the 10.9-pounder that made the Swollfest leaderboard.

“That same day, a mangrove I was bringing in that looked to be in the 12-pound range was bitten in half by a shark about 15 miles out. It could have been the first-place mangrove on the S.T.A.R.,” Valenciano said, adding that he chalked up a personal-best, 12.52-pound mangrove the day before the S.T.A.R. began.

Louisiana wins again

Led by Ryan Lavigne’s fifth-place overall finish, and David Cavell and Jamie Laiche taking the next two spots, the Louisiana Team dominated the B.A.S.S. Federation’s Central Division with a near 302-pound total. Team Texas was second.

The tournament is designed to get the top angler from each of eight states to move on to the Federation Nationals.

Lavigne earned Louisiana’s spot.