Thanksgiving and Christmas came early for Teche Area outdoorsmen who love to tap the red snapper population in this part of the Gulf of Mexico.
The state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries gave them a huge gift recently when it announced the daily recreational red snapper creel limit will double to four fish per person and the tasty reef fish can be caught seven days a week until further notice. That won’t be so easy for boats in the hurricane-ravaged southeast part of the state but it’s a godsend for boats that leave out of Morgan City and Cypremort Point, among other access points in southwest Louisiana.
LDWF officials set the increased creel limit and daily open season Sept. 22 when Jack Montoucet, LDWF secretary, signed a declaration of emergency to reopen the recreational red snapper season on Sept. 24. The state department closed the season on Sept. 7 to give biologists and staff a chance to analyze harvest limits.
Montoucet said, “Providing this opportunity will help bring business back to our marinas, docks and the charter fishing industry, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Opening this season now allows anglers the ability to harvest amberjack and red snapper simultaneously as the recreational greater amberjack season is scheduled to run through October.”
The LDWF’s LA Creel data indicated there was approximately 30 percent, or 244,692 pounds, of red snapper remaining for anglers to harvest this year. It was a prudent move by state officials because if any of the five Gulf states fails to harvest its annual allotment, those unaccounted for pounds go into a pool to be shared by all five states in next year’s allotment.
As The Advocate’s Joe Macaluso, a friend and veteran outdoors writer, wrote Sept. 25, Louisiana’s saltwater fishermen and some Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission members made sure to let the LDWF’s top officials know those red snapper belong to saltwater fishermen in the Sportsman’s Paradise.
Macaluso opined it’s going to be interesting to see how the LWFC approaches the 2022 private recreational red snapper season. After all, he wrote, an apparent maximum effort by saltwater fishermen during 13 weekend (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only) seasons in 2021, sport fishermen caught 587,801 pounds, 70 percent of this year’s 832,493-pound allotment.
He pointed out Hurricane Ida put fishing on hold the last weekend of August, again on Labor Day Weekend and following weekends in September. Even including those lost weekends, then using catch data from previous years, it’s highly likely the state would have come up a minimum of 120,000 pounds short of the allotment for 2021.
There’s hope that state biologists will take that into consideration and take a long, hard, disapproving look at the two-fish daily creel limit per person. Louisiana’s many saltwater fishermen, including those in this area, have decried that limit ever since it was imposed. Two red snapper per person isn’t worth the time and money to target the species, particularly when the greater amberjack and gray triggerfish seasons are closed most of the summer.
Hopefully, LDWF’s biologists and managers can come up with a way to implement a three-fish limit for Friday-through-Sunday seasons in 2022. It’s a discussion that needs to come sooner than later.
Red snapper fishing for recreationals will remain open until LA Creel estimates indicate the state’s offshore anglers are approaching the allocation.
Here’s another reminder that the New Iberia Ducks Unlimited Chapter, which was born in the mid-1970s, officials are at work planning the next annual New Iberia DU Banquet.
Banquet committee members met Sept. 23 and again this past week to get ready for the local fundraising event scheduled to be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Isle of Iberia RV Resort, 911 NW Bypass. For more information call New Iberia DU Chapter chairman Jason Foster at 356-4977.
Also on tap a month later is the Jeanerette DU Chapter’s next fundraising event. The Jeanerette DU Banquet is scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 4 at the West St. Mary Civic Center, 1472 Louisiana 318. For more information call Larry Gaspard at 380-4641.
The Teche Area’s DU fundraisers got underway Sept. 14 with the Jeanerette DU Chapter’s Sponsor Banquet at the Marsh House on Avery Island.
I hope you continue to support these local chapters that bring in bucks for ducks.
DON SHOOPMAN is outdoors editor of The Daily Iberian.