Size limit off for Basin, Verret bass

The 20-year plan that restricted anglers from keeping bass less than 14 inches long in a broad stretch of water covering south-central Louisiana is over.

Effective Thursday, there is no size limit on black bass in the Atchafalaya Basin; the Lake Verret Basin that includes waters around Lake Verret, Grassy Lake and Lake Palourde; and, the waters of Lake Fausse Pointe and Lake Dauterive.

As part of removing the size-limit restriction, anglers will have a seven-bass daily limit — most all state waters have a 10-bass-a-day limit — and a plan to study the impact of these new limits on the overall fish populations in these waters.

The 14-inch limit was imposed after Hurricane Andrew killed an estimated 175 million fish, including 5 million bass, in the Atchafalaya Basin alone in August 1992. The Lake Verret and Fausse Pointe areas suffered similar losses as the Basin. State biologists used the 14-inch limit to carry female bass through at least two spawning cycles to help restore fish populations.

State Inland Fisheries Section chief Mike Wood said recent state biological studies “showed the Atchafalaya Basin largemouth bass population does not exhibit necessary criteria for which a 14-inch minimum length limit would produce larger bass. The study indicates the basin bass population is more heavily influenced by environmental factors, including water fluctuation and the effects of tropical storms, rather than angler harvest.”

Get the permit

Looking at marinas across the coast in the past two weeks shows that extending the red snapper season has increased offshore trips for Louisiana anglers, some of whom are not aware they need an offshore landing permit to haul in all tunas, and all species of groupers including hinds, snappers, swordfish, billfsh and amberjacks.

Note here that the greater amberjack season is closed and the permit applies to all snapper species except mangrove (gray) snapper.

The fee-free permit was adopted by the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission to help state biologists better assess the effect recreational anglers have on fish populations off the Louisiana coast.

The website set up to get a Recreational Offshore Landings Permit: http://rolp.wlf.la.gov/permit/apply.

Further note that any angler wanting to land/offload a yellowfin tuna must report his or her catch before offloading the fish. To report taking yellowfins, anglers can check in at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ website: http://www.rolp.wlf.la.gov, or by using a free iPhone or Android app, or by calling a toll-free reporting line (877) 792-3440.

Clear water

This week’s full moon means there will be harder push from the tides to the beaches. Combine that with the fact that Friday is the first day of summer, when the sun reaches its highest point in the northern hemisphere for the year, and the return of southerly breezes and you have a four- or five-day stretch when fishing the surf should produce life-long memories.

Cast topwater plugs into the shallows, or rig live pogeys or live croaker on Carolina rigs and cast them to the beach. There are the days when you can hit the sand with live bait, pull the bait off the beach into the water, then get just enough water around that morsel to attract strikes from hefty speckled trout.

Five-pound and heavier trout cruise water 12 inches deep under these conditions. Look for frothy, white water from a wave breaking on a point to produce solid trout action, too.

To nationals

A pair of two-man University of Louisiana at Monroe teams were among 13 teams to qualify for the Carhartt College Series National Championship after their finish in the 75-team field of the College Wild Card tournament held last weekend on Pickwick Lake in Alabama.

Nick LaDart and Brian Eaton finshed ahead of mates Blake Deron and Brett Preuett in the final standings, but both qualified for the Aug. 1-3 National set for the Chatuge Reservoir in Georgia.

Howell in Classic

Veteran Alabama pro Randy Howell is in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic after winning the Northern Open last weekend.