Monday, March 14, 2022

LWFC proposes closed season for flounder

At the March meeting of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting, the body adopted a Notice of Intent (NOI) to set an annual closed season for the recreational and commercial harvest of Southern Flounder from October 15th through November 30th of each year. The purpose of the NOI is aid in the recovery of stocks which have seriously declined in state waters over the past decade.

The problem is not unique to Louisiana. Throughout their range - from North Carolina to south Texas - Southern Flounder have declined steeply in numbers. As a result, almost every state has adopted a closed season in late fall. This is the period in which flounder migrate to the sea to spawn. In doing so, they often congregate making them easy targets for harvest.

It's not a problem of overfishing as much as low spawning recruitment. According to various studies, flounder born with XY chromosomes can determine their sex after they're born and when they're between 30 and 65 millimeters in length. These juveniles are becoming increasingly more masculine, with very few females left for future recruitment.

A study by researchers at LSU reported that the cause may be related to warmer water temperatures. There is a certain critical water temperature, that above that temperature, these tiny flounder are much more likely to become males. That's because - under environmental stress - males function better than females. They use less energy during their lifespan for growth and reproduction.  Males seldom grow over 14 inches in length, while females can get up to 28 inches.

Some states are attacking the problem from two sides. For example, Alabama not only has a closed season but they are stocking juvenile flounder raised in hatcheries where the water temperature is ideal for 50/50 sexual orientation. This will lead to a much faster recovery than closed season alone. 

The public can submit comments relative to the proposed rule to Jason Adriance, Fisheries Division, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898-9000 or via email to prior to noon on May 2, 2022.

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Bob Tabbert, a leader in casting & conservation, passes

On February 23rd, Louisiana lost one of its great contributors to our sport when Robert "Bob" Tabbert passed away. Bob was 93 years old. Born in Ripon, Wisconsin, his job as a geologist took him to south Louisiana where he embraced the lifestyle. After retirement, he became a seasonal summer resident of his native state, living in a cabin in northern Wisconsin chasing his beloved brook trout. The rest of the year he lived in Lafayette, where he was a longtime active member and board director for the Acadiana Fly Rodders club.  

Bob had many interests, but his passions were fly fishing and conservation. In the Federation of Fly Fishers (now Fly Fishers International) he found an avenue for combining both. A longtime FFF member, in 2000, he and a few other members helped rebuild the FFF Conservation Committee and establish new goals and direction. He served many years on the FFI Conservation Committee, and more recently as the Committee's Senior Advisor.  He worked on the FFF's native fish conservation projects and chaired their Coldwater Committee. He also served as vice-president of conservation for both the Southern Council and the Gulf Coast Council after its formation in 2006.

In 2012, he was awarded the "FFI Conservation Award" for extraordinary contributions to the conservation of fisheries resources. He was also awarded the Don Harger Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to fly fishing.

In addition to his contributions as a conservationist were his contributions to fly casting. Bob was one of the first FFF Certified Casting Instructors in the state, and one of its first Master Certified Instructors. He also served a stint as Casting Director for the FFF Gulf Coast Council.  He helped organize several casting clinics for the Acadiana club, and directed casting activities for their annual conclave.

In 2019, Bob wrote a book "The Great Depression & Alaska Fly Fishing", a collection of stories from his youth growing up in central Wisconsin during the Depression. The second half of the book is about his time in Alaska working as a geologist. Both segments of his life are intertwined with his love of fly fishing.

Bob's wife, Phyllis, passed away in March of last year. They are survived by their children, Lori and Matthew, and a string of grandchildren and great grandchildren.