Decoy carvers, collectors to converge at Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center

For several hours Saturday, Baton Rouge, more pointedly the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center, will be the center of the universe for waterfowl decoy carvers and collectors.

Saturday’s Baton Rouge Antique Decoy Show follows last year’s success at the Nature Center.

“There has been a continuing buzz of approval regarding the event last year,” organizer and collector Gary Lipham said.

The show honors the memory of Charles Frank, the New Orleans businessman and author who began collecting decoys and identifying Louisiana’s top decoy carvers and was in a small group of carvers, collectors and waterfowl hunters to organize shows and museum exhibits.

The Nature Center’s decoy-collection room was dedicated to Frank when the Baton Rouge show debuted in 2012.

Besides the show’s target of displaying, buying, selling and swapping decoys and other waterfowl collectables, a special feature of the Baton Rouge gathering is its “Antiques Roadshow” atmosphere: Lipham said longtime collectors and carvers will man what he called a “Question & Answer Station.” He said anyone with an old decoy can have it “evaluated to help determine who might have carved the decoy, when and where.”

He said other collectors will display wooden boats and dugouts, some more than 100 years old, outside the center’s main building, and there will be carving demonstrations and activities and games for youngsters.

Doors at the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center will open at 9 a.m., and the show will run until 5 p.m. The center’s day-use fee is $3, but less for seniors and children.

Lipham said he and other avid carvers and collectors saw the need for the show in the wake of hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. Several collections, notably the extensive holding by famous New Orleans’ carver Charles Hutchinson, were wiped out by these storms.

“That’s why it’s important to save what we have,” Lipham said.

FLW Forrest Wood Cup

Meanwhile, the run through Sunday of the FLW Forrest Wood Cup, the big-payout, end-of-the-year bass tournament is attracting even more eyes and ears to Louisiana. Daily morning launches go from Red River South Marina, and afternoon weigh-ins are set for the CenturyLink Center on the Bossier City side of the Red River.

The FLW Expo runs daily at the Convention Center in downtown Shreveport. The expo features tackle and fishing-related wares, and seminars, among them an 11 a.m. display Saturday on antique lures, and another by bass legend Hank Parker at 3 p.m. Saturday. There’s no admission fee for the weigh-in nor the expo. Schedules and other information can be found on the FLW website:

Caught a what? Where?

David Pizzaloto wasn’t vaccinated by the same needle most fishermen were in their youth. The guy doesn’t stretch the truth, perfers not telling than fibbing, and knows a hand-sized sac-a-lait doesn’t weigh a pound.

So when he called early last week to talk about catching a sheepshead in Grassy Lake, it was easy to know he telling the truth.

He was scouting for last week’s sac-a-lait tournament, said he felt the line jerk, set the hook and the battle was on.

“The fish maybe weighed four pounds and I got him all the way to the boat where he broke the line,” Pizzaloto said. “I’ve never heard of that before, not a sheepshead. That fish belongs in water far from around Grassy Lake. I wish I could have put it in the boat just to prove that this isn’t a fish story.”

It’s not the first sheepshead story coming from freshwater fishermen. Last summer, an angler reported catching one about five miles south of the U.S. 190 bridge crossing the Whiskey Bay Pilot Channel.

Pizzaloto teamed with old friend Leonard Kleinpeter to finish third in last weekend’s sac-a-lait tournament at the Belle River Public Landing.

Kenneth Bergeron and Jerome Chambers won with a seven-fish limit weighing 7.2 pounds, followed by Cedric Williams and Larry Pool at 6.38 and Pizzaloto-Kleinpeter at 6.02.

Reports were that all the teams caught fish and that the Atchafalaya Spillway is holding loads of medium to small fish. Bergeron and Chambers reportedly caught their limit on J.C. Carville’s hand-tied jigs.

To the championship

Nash Roberts IV and Luke Landry put an exclamation report on the final regular-season Louisiana Saltwater Redfish Series event of the year with a two-fish stringer weighing 16.25 pounds Saturday out of Delta Marina in Empire.

The veteran New Orleans-area team won its third LSS-Redfish title in 2013. Among the series’ six events, Robert and Landry won previous stops at Slidell and Lafitte, and head into October’s LSS Championship among the favorites to take the series’ top annual prize.

Roberts and Landry took the champion’s share of an $8,540 pool after they said they ran through the Empire Control Gates to the Delacroix area for their winners. Others in the 48-boat field went to the Venice area.

Drake Garrison won the Youth Division with an 7.84-pound red, while the rest of the top-five teams list was filled out by Steve Smith and John Garrison in second place (16.12 pounds), Jason LeBlanc and Kory Matherne in third (15.67), Jacob Leininger and Jeff Rogers (15.55) in fourth and the father-son team of Barnie and Steve White in fifth (15.45).

Department of Widllife and Fisheries biologists reported 140 redfish were tagged and released by Audubon Aquarium of the Americas Staff as part of the Louisiana Marine Sport Fish Tagging Program.

The Redfish Series Championship is set Oct. 18-19 at Venice Marina, and the next LSS Youth Tournament will be held Nov. 2 at Myrtle Grove Marina.