Sunday afternoon I needed to make an errand run to Gramercy, a few miles south of Sorrento. After passing La. 22 and La. 61, the scenery changes to beautiful swamp on the right and Airline Canal on the left.
The traffic was light, so I sort of perused the swamp for a while to see what things looked like. The fact that the water was at the right level to catch crawfish was the first thing that came to mind and brought back more of those memories that we talked about last week.
Once you pass I-10 is where the Maurepas Wildlife Management Area begins and stretches all the way to Gramercy, which means it’s set up for public use. It’s not too late to harvest some crawfish with set nets.
Heck, with a recreational fishing we are allowed to catch 150 lbs a day for personal consumption. Log on to https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/ and click on the tab on the top right for all the info including maps and regulations.
When the Airline Canal came into my view, the sight of cars parked along the side of the road became very prevalent. In springtime, one of the favorite pastimes is fishing on the side of the road, and man, is it popular right now.
Car after car lined up on the popular fishing canal with folks trying their best to catch a few bream, goggle-eye and sac a lait for supper. Most were couples, probably a little bored from staying at home, but there was plenty of room for “social distancing” for the groups to be spread out.
With fishing activity ramping up all around us, the applications for the state record books have started coming in as well. The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association has maintained the state fish records since 1940, and I have the privilege of being the current record keeper.
Filling out the application requires a fair amount of effort. The process is to ensure the records are as pure as possible as an honor system can be. All states have a process to accomplish this. Louisiana is the only state in the good ole USA that keeps “Top Ten” records.
Two well-deserving Louisiana anglers were presented with the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association’s (LOWA) prestigious Fish of the Year Awards for 2019 at the LOWA annual convention in Morgan City.
The top angler recognized in the Rod & Reel Division was Drew Michael Dubuc of Metairie. Dubuc’s 33.90 Striped Bass caught in the Lake Catherine ranks in sixth place in the state record book. The story behind the 8-year-old’s catch is what makes it so special.
In the Fly Fishing Division, Charles Miller of New Orleans will take home the award for Fish of the Year. Miller will be presented the award for his feat of landing a 3.98 White Bass caught in the Pearl River and currently qualifies for a new state record.
These two fish were caught many miles apart, and the two anglers had very different battles on the end of their lines. But they did have one thing in common; they took the time to meet all the requirements to register their fish for the state record book.
Unfortunately not all cases turn out this way. There are two reasons this happens. The biggest culprit is not being aware of the records. I can state with confidence that more record fish are released or brought to the kitchen for table fare than new records are recorded each year because anglers just don’t know their fish qualifies.
The second is more times than we like to see, folks don’t meet all the requirements needed to certify the catch. Their fish more times than not would qualify but because one or two steps are omitted because the angler thought they did everything required, great disappointment takes place.
OK, so here’s the Reader’s Digest version of how to do it. The records and applications are on our website at www.louisianaoutdoorwriters.com under the records tab at the top of the home page. They can either filled out by hard copy or can be filled online then the application can mailed to the address provided.
One of the most enjoyable things I do is helping anglers getting it right. There is a “contact us” on the website and we take pleasure helping out. Just don’t freak out as the application doesn’t have to be filled out in one day. We allow a very generous 60 days to submit after the catch date.
The name of the angler, specie of fish, date caught along with the weight, length and where the fish was caught is first in line. Next if the fish was caught offshore, the name of the boat, captain and the port where the boat landed is needed. The type of rod, reel, line pound test along with bait used rounds this part off.
The scale is next. It can be done anywhere a certified, inspected by the Louisiana State Dept of Agriculture scale is located. A grocery store, marina or even a seafood dock, or a tournament weigh in location, the location doesn’t matter as long as the scale is certified by the state. All that’s needed is where you weigh it, name and model, digital or standard along with the certification # and inspection date.
The applicant’s information is next then two witnesses need to sign and supply their info as well. The bottom of page one is reserved for the biologist’s documentation. This part takes the most effort. A new No. 1 record requires physical examination. Second through 10th can be done by photo.
If it’s on the weekend or after hours, the catch will have to be refrigerated or frozen until a biologist can be reached. If you’re in the Grand Isle area or nearby, the Marine Lab has several biologists there and can be reached at 985 787-2163. The biologists are very accommodating as this is part of their job, it just takes a little effort.
The records are separated by fresh water and salt water as well as rod and reel and fly rod. There is even a pond section for a few species, although pond fish are not eligible for Fish of the Year as they are private waters.
If you fish very much, a visit to the website to get acquainted with the rules and check out the records would be a great way to spend a little time and find out what’s going on.
You never know, you just might land a fish that would put you in the “Top Ten”!
Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Until next time, have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God bless you!!
Eli—My grandson, Eli poses with a nice bream he caught fishing in Flat Lake with his mom and paw paw. Photo provided
Fish Record—Shirley Lewis with her 3.15 Hybrid Yellow Bass that will qualify for the No. 2 spot in the state fish records caught in Toledo Bend.