Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year!

This marks the last of activities until after New Years. So starting now, we'll be on break. If something does comes up, it'll be posted on our Facebook page.

So here's wishing our readers and friends a Happy Hanukkah, and a most blessed Christmas! Hope everyone finds something under the Christmas tree they can use for their piscatorial pursuits in the coming year.  The new year brings a  number of regional events to look forward to starting in January.  This unusually cold weather will slow the fishing down for awhile. But as soon as it warms up, expect some excellent marsh action for reds and specks.  And some good freshwater action for crappie and chain pickeral on fly.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

It's Rainbeaux Trout time!

Once again, as they have for the past 14 years, Baton Rouge Recreation (BREC) will stock "rainbeaux trout" in a few selected ponds in East Baton Rouge Parish. The exact dates and locations are usually secret for a couple days. But the timing is typically a few days before or after Christmas so that youngsters can enjoy the fishing while on school break. The daily limit is four (4) per person.

Usually at the time of the BREC stocking, there's the stocking of trout in the Lamar-Dixon pond in Ascension Parish, also managed by the local recreation agency.

In early January, LDWF stocks almost 20 ponds across the state as part of it's "Get Out and Fish!" community fishing program. Each location has a fishing tournament in conjunction with the stocking. Locations are announced on the LDWF website as well as their Facebook page. The daily limit is four (4) per person.

Rainbow trout are native to rivers and lakes in western North America, but have been stocked in coldwater environments across the globe. In winter, several states stock in community ponds to give anglers an opportunity to catch an active fish when warmwater species are mostly dormant. These fish die off once water temperatures exceed 70 degrees. In Louisiana, depending on pond location and depth, that could be anytime between mid-March and mid-April.  However, few if any trout remain in these ponds by March due to angler harvest and "death from above" (eagles and ospreys).

Thursday, December 15, 2022

NOFFC has new website, releases Expo flyer

The New Orleans Fly Fishers Club is the 2nd oldest club in the state, having formed in 1984 by Ted Cabali and Tom Jindra. Over the nearly four decades, the club has been a major contributor to the growth of saltwater fly fishing and fly tying in Louisiana, with several members well recognized in the regional and national fly tying community.

In preparation for the biennial expo, NOFFC has unveiled a new website. The domain remains the same, but there's new content. Webmaster Wayne Schnell is still putting the final pieces together, but in addition to the latest club news and a more detailed "Calendar of Events", the site will also include articles of interest to all fly anglers.  Check it out at

Speaking of the Expo... the 2023 New Orleans Fly Fishing Expo is just weeks away, set for Saturday, January 21st. It will take place at St. Christopher School Gymnasium in Metairie. Activities will include fly casting seminars and demonstrations, fly tying instruction and demonstrations, seminars and destination seminars, Sports Writers Roundtable, Iron Fly Tyer competition, auctions and raffles of top end products and flies, artists and vendors, and Kids Fly Fishing Casting and programs. Best of all, the event is FREE and open to the public.

For a full size version of the poster, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, December 08, 2022

Latest redfish report calls for stricter regulations

Louisiana's spawning population of red drum is on the decline.  And while the primary reasons are not entirely to blame on angler harvest, it's anglers who will have to make the sacrifice to bring the stocks back to the conservation standard.

At last Thursday’s monthly meeting of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC), LDWF marine fisheries biologist Jason Adriance gave the most recent assessment on red drum stocks in the state.  The report summarized that, while spawning stocks of redfish are still above the conservation standard, the number has been declining since 2005 as fewer redfish escape to spawning size.  And unless management changes are initiated soon, we could see a situation where the fishery is unsustainable.

Red drum are unique in that the vast majority of harvest are juvenile fish.  These immature fish are typically under 4 to 5 years of age, under 27 inches in length, and under 10 pounds in weight.  When a redfish reaches 4 to 5 years of age, it usually migrates to nearshore or offshore waters to join the spawning population.  To protect these spawning stocks, recreational harvest of mature redfish in federal waters is not allowed and severely limited in state waters.  Current regulations for Louisiana are 5 fish per day, 16 to 27 inches only, with one exception over 27 inches.

By far, redfish are the most popular species among saltwater fly fishermen.  Louisiana has been described in numerous publications as the “Redfish Capitol of the World” and supports at least a few dozen flyfishing charter services that put clients on fish in shallow water for a sightcasting experience found only in a few places (mainly Texas and South Carolina). 

For veteran redfish anglers, the assessment came as no surprise.  There’s been loads of anecdotal evidence to support that fishing for reds “ain’t what it used to be”.   Coming just months after an assessment on spotted seatrout (specks) that indicated management changes were needed for that species as well.

Among the reasons given for redfish decline were much the same as for speckled trout decline. Those include:  loss of habitat (especially diverse habitat), decline of available forage (yep, that menhaden issue again), and increased fishing pressure.  Regarding the latter, it should be noted that the current regulations ( 5 fish per day, 16 to 27 inches only, with one exception over 27 inches)  were established 34 years ago in 1988.  The numbers of saltwater anglers in the state, the amount of fishing effort, and the expertise and technology to improve fishing success have all increased dramatically since then.

Management thresholds for red drum have been established by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council  (GMFMC).   For Louisiana, the conservation standard is a 20 percent spawning potential ratio, based on a 30 percent escapement rate.  While currently we have a 40 percent SPR, the escapement rate estimate is 20 percent.  And because there is a time lag between escapement and recruitment, this means we’ll likely see a further decline in fishing for a few years until any restrictive measures kick in.

Adriance and his team also provided the Commission with numerous scenarios for management changes to get red drum back above the conservation standards.  These came in the form of tables and graphs with different harvest numbers, slot sizes, and retaining or removing the one-exception over the maximum slot size.

To review the management scenarios on the LDWF website, CLICK HERE

There are two proposals that are gaining momentum, both of which would bring the escapement rate to about 40 percent - above the conservation standard.  Both would increase the minimum slot size limit from 16 to 18 inches, retain the maximum slot size at 27 inches, and decrease the daily creel limit from 5 fish to 3 fish.  The first proposal would eliminate the "one fish over 27 inches per day" exception now in place, and would not allow ANY possession of red drum over 27 inches at any time.  The second proposal would give every saltwater license holder two (2) annual tags to keep a redfish over 27 inches. 

The "2 Tag Annual" proposal mirrors what Texas does.  Texas allows anglers to annually keep just 2 redfish over the maximum slot size.  I spoke to Jason Adriance and later to a biologist at TPWD about what impact this would have.  Jason said they would need to do an estimation model to verify, but the TPWD biologist stated the impact for them is "very minimal" and suggested at most it might drop the escapement rate by 2 percent.

Meanwhile, CCA Louisiana and the Fly Fishers International (FFI) Gulf Coast Council (GCC) are  having separate discussions about proposals to be brought to the LWF Commission.  It's almost a certainty that each organization will propose a plan that brings escapement back to at least 30 percent, if not higher. 

Scenario A: Increase escapement going to
18″ min slot and eliminating one over max

Scenario B: Increase escapement going to
18″ min slot and keeping one over max