Fishing activities

Fishing rebounds as more people return to water activities

It’s been a while since we’ve had an address on the status of the pier, mainly because there isn’t much to report. At least not very positive to report. So I’m not going to whitewash it and just tell it like it is.

I haven’t caught a single game fish (bass, bluegill, goggle-eye, chinquapin, and white or black crappie) since Hurricane Ida. The only scaly fish I’ve caught is a little less than a handful of freshwater drum, commonly known as gaspergou.

Things have improved a bit on the catfish front. I caught just enough to eat and a little to put in the freezer in case hard times come. My next door neighbor was lucky enough to catch a few sea bream, but nothing to brag about. Nothing big enough to keep.

Not all fish die in a fish kill, and I hear of a few bass and other fish caught on occasion. Although I am a conservationist and believe that a harvest of all species is a requirement for a healthy population, now would be a good time to practice fishing and release, or simply fish somewhere where the fish have not suffered devastating mortality.

St. Amant Bass Club held their February tournament in Bayou Black (in the swamp, no fish killed) and proved that there was a pretty good population of nice sized bass in that area. Malcom Smith and Nick Breaux caught the winning stringer who weighed in at 23.97 pounds using a Chatter bait and jig on February 19.

What hasn’t changed around the house is the number of boats that hit the water for a little fishing and lots of boat rides. I thought high gas prices might have squeezed wallets enough to slow traffic, but damn it, I was wrong.

I have the opportunity to witness people who do no “check your boat stuff” for the first trip of the year. They stop at Hilltop or Canal Bank and my way. They’re pretty easy to spot because the engine runs for 15 or 20 seconds and kills.

They keep trying again and again, expecting the engine to run in vain. The second group has an engine that does not run on all cylinders and cannot take off. If there are a few people on board, they all get up to bring the bow down.

And then there are those who don’t even leave the dock. The Boat Owners Association of America (BoatUS) offers its Spring Commissioning Checklist to help boaters get the season off to a good start.

Rance Gautreaux, Coby Schexnayder and Chad Schexnayder caught these 102 frogs in the Atchafalaya spillway on March 11.

It also offers BoatUS.com/Spring, a one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about the annual pleasure boat commissioning ritual. A PDF copy of the checklist can be downloaded, printed and taken with you on the boat. Be sure to follow all manufacturer recommendations for your specific boat, engine and accessories.

It’s a good time to talk about water safety, because it’s only going to get more hectic as it gets hotter and hotter. Of the 24 deaths in 2020, 20 were recovered without wearing a PFD. There have already been two boating-related fatalities in 2022.

Anyone 16 and under must wear a properly fitting, US Coast Guard approved PFD when navigating a vessel less than 26 feet in length.

In addition, anyone aboard a vessel under 16 feet in length, powered by a hand-held motor, must wear a PFD while underway. There must also be a PFD for every person on board a vessel, and everyone on a personal watercraft must wear a PFD.

But in the maze of statistics, there are people who are no longer there and families who have to deal with this tragic loss. Mothers who have lost children, brothers who have lost sisters and children who have lost parents.

The harm caused by these losses is immeasurable and has no place in statistics. I think back to two incidents in the past that involved friends of mine that left seven people dead. I can still see their faces.

Of all the causes listed, a large percentage of accidents and deaths could be avoided by changing three things. First of all, alcohol and water don’t mix. If you’re going to be the driver, don’t drink.

Second, wearing a personal flotation device really does save lives. Only 4.1% of boaters observed over a five-year period wore them. Third, be careful. A driver who does not watch where he is going or what he is doing is a major factor in all incidents.

I work in the petrochemical industry, where safety is paramount and well regulated. Drug and alcohol procedures have kept these incidents to a minimum. Personal protective equipment is mandatory and well applied.

The one thing that cannot be regulated in the industry, or anywhere else for that matter, is the attention part. It’s a learned behavior that is unfortunately learned at school through hard knocks or at someone else’s expense.

I like to ride on water in a boat. Most of the time it’s a fishing trip, but a boat ride to take in the beauty of our state is also amazing and enjoyable for almost anyone. But each individual has choices to make about how the day might end.

The choices you make could end in a great day on the water with memories that last a lifetime. Some end up in the hospital and unfortunately for some, they end up in a funeral home.

Boating is a great outdoor activity; don’t let yours end in tragedy. Remember to keep the slack and set the hook hard. Until next time, have fun outside, be safe and God bless you!

Outdoor calendar

  • Eastern Ascension Sports League Meeting: 7:00 p.m. on the third Monday of each month in the upstairs meeting room at Cabela’s. Dinner will be served. warrenh3@eatel.net
  • Become an Outdoorswoman / Shotguns: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Waddill Wildlife Refuge, North Flannery Road, Baton Rouge. Operation, proper handling for hunting/recreation, safety, shooting and cleaning. Material provided. No personal firearms. For 18 years and over. Fees $35. Limited class size. State Wildlife and Fisheries Event. Website: lawff.org/bow. Email: Dana Norsworthy: dnorsworthy@wlf.la.gov
  • Louisiana Outdoor Expo: Friday through Sunday at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center. Rods, reels, bows and more – you can find it all with special Bowie Outfitters Expo pricing at the Louisiana Outdoor Expo. Friday: 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult tickets: $12, children 6-15: $6, 5 and under free, Sunday: all children free
  • 42nd Pointe Coupee Kiwanis Open Bass Tournament: Sunday at the public launch of Morrison Parkway, New Roads. Daylight safe, $150 per team in advance, $175 on tournament day. Registration includes Big Bass contest, jambalaya, drinks and door prizes. Call Kenneth St. Romain (225) 718-1319.
  • South Louisiana Highpower Club game: March 27, 7:30 a.m., squad; 8 a.m. on the beach, Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Range, St. Landry Road, Gonzales. NRA Match Rifle or Service Rifle, 200 yard/50 round match range. Fees $12 members, $15 non-members, $5 juniors. $15 annual membership in club and civilian marksmanship program (allows purchases from CMP). Email Rick Mol: southlahighpower@hotmail.com

Need a media event? Contact Lyle at reelman@eatel.net