Author: Rafael Wade

How-To: Catch and Release

An important aspect of fishing is learning a good basic knowledge of the species you hope to catch, the legal and seasonal status and edibility factors. Many fish are released for a wide range of reasons including exceeding your bag limit, the fish does not meet size limits for that species or the season may be closed for the take of that species of fish.

The following are some basic guidelines to follow that will ensure you do your part not to waste the resource.

While fishing, try to maintain and monitor a tight line so that a fish does not completely swallow a hook causing internal damage. An even better method is to employ the use of circle hooks, which are highly effective, yet almost always hook the fish in the corner of the mouth. This has been studied and proven to reduce mortality in fish. A growing number of die-hard fishermen feel those are better than more traditional J-hooks.

Cut the leader close on a swallowed hook rather than trying to dig it out of the fish. Yanking on their guts is not responsible fishing, and the survival of the fish is not likely. Leaving the hook in, while not optimal, gives the best chance of survival. Embedded hooks are often encased by scar tissue, and the fish continues to thrive.

Fish also have a better chance of survival if kept in the water. If you do need to measure it or work with it, keep the “out of water time” to a minimum. Have tools and rulers at the ready and never grab the fish with a dry rag.  The slime coat is a vital part of the fish’s defense to disease and removing it degrades its ability to survive.  Wet your hands or gloves to prevent the slime from being wiped off. Rubber-coated nets are better than fin-splitting nylon ones. Flopping on a hot, dry deck or beach also tends to remove slime, so take precautions.

The use of dehooking tools can help speed the process of returning the fish to the water. Often fish from deeper waters need to be vented or manually taken back to depth in order to release or recompress the expanded gasses in their body. If this is not performed, then the fish is doomed to float away on the surface. There are a variety of venting tools available, and learning how to properly use them is crucial. Many anglers who deal with inflated fish keep a rod ready with a barbless hook and large weight, which acts as a diving sled to take the fish back to a depth where the gasses squeeze back into solution, and the fish is then released off the barbless hook.

If we all work to increase the survival rate of released fish, we will have more fish to catch.

How-To: Make a Double Drop Shot Rig for Trout

What we have here is a Double Drop Shot Rig. We use it for speckled sea trout when fishing the river system in deep water, and often there is a lot of current. This is very similar to a standard drop shot rig, but we are using a grub-style jig instead of a weight on the bottom. A shrimp-like lure is presented a few feet above.

To rig it, you tie your mainline to a simple barrel swivel, which is then tied to two leaders: one about three feet in length and the other a foot and a half. Tie the heavy jighead to the longer leader; that gives the rig the weight necessary to get the lighter-weight soft-plastic shrimp down to the deeper part of the water column, where it wiggles in the current.

Most of the trout bites will come on the shrimp lure first and sometimes the jig as it’s raised up and moving from the fight of the first trout hooked. So, sometimes you can catch them two at a time, or sometimes they prefer to eat the bottom jig. You just never know.

It’s a great rig because it’s easy to build, fun to fish and works great. Just toss it out, let it sink to the bottom, tighten up the slack and then twitch it back towards the boat. You can adjust leader lengths if you think the fish are closer to the bottom.

Anglers should experiment to see what is working best for the condition but do give this rig a try. because it can produce fantastic results.

Louisiana’s Seafood History

Since the first native Indians inhabited the fertile delta that would become known as Louisiana, the bounty of the waters has been an integral part of life. Louisiana’s seafood has played a major role in the growth of the area and the history of its people. For years, the traditions and knowledge of how to harvest these tasty creatures has been passed down from generation to generation. It continues today as Louisiana’s commercial fishermen work hard to bring their fresh catch to a growing percentage of the world.

The fertility of the aquatic environment in Louisiana is able to support a sustainable yield of crabs, shrimp, oysters, alligator and both fresh and saltwater finfish.  The modern seafood industry in Louisiana is touted to be valued at over a billion dollars and provides much of the U.S. with its fresh-caught and better tasting wild-caught seafood.

The industry also sustains the family traditions that stem from the men and women who endure the elements and the ups and downs of commercial fishing, to pursue their passion for plying the waters of Louisiana in search of her edible treasures.

Fish Taco

This is a quick and easy way to make a delicious meal. It can be made even easier by using that leftover redfish from my grilled redfish recipe you made the day before. Add a margarita with a wedge of lime, and you have the perfect dinner.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs fish fillets (or 2 lbs leftover cooked fillets)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp margarine or butter
  • 1 onion – chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic – chopped
  • 8 oz diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz cooked black beans (canned works fine)
  • 2-3 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp cilantro
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 cup bell pepper
  • 8 soft corn tortillas

Directions

  1. In medium skillet, heat 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp margarine on medium-high heat. Add seasoned fish fillets.  Sear/cook 4-6 minutes on each side (depending on thickness of fillets) Set aside.
  2. If you use leftover cooked fish, just skip above step and set aside cooked fish.
  3. In large skillet heat 3 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp margarine on medium-high heat. Add onions and bell peppers. (I prefer to use a mixture of bell and Sorrento peppers to add just a little heat. If you want to really heat things up, you can use jalapeño peppers)
  4. Sauté. Add 2 tsp cilantro, the chopped garlic, diced tomatoes, and black beans. Season to taste. Continue cooking on medium-high heat, stirring often, for 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add lime juice. Break up fish and add to mixture. Add a few tbsp water if needed to prevent sticking. Continue to cook until fish is incorporated into mixture; approximately 4-6 minutes.
  6. In small skillet (I prefer to use a small cast iron skillet) heat 2 tbsp cooking oil on med-high heat. Add corn tortilla. Cook on both sides. Remove from heat and drain on paper towel. Repeat on remaining tortillas.

How To Untwist a Spinning Reel

A spinning reel is a great tool for fishing.  We use them for casting distances and pitching lightweight baits and lures.  One of their only negatives is that the line can get twisty after a long fight or if the angler reels against the clicking drag. The line is both stressed by this and becomes troublesome for the next fish encounter.  Make sure the angler is not grinding against the drag, as this can eventually lead to line break.

It is a simple process to untwist the line after a fight.  It does require a moving boat and a minute of down time, but it is well worth it.  Usually, you can drag it on the way back to a spot after the fish has pulled you off.

The process is simple, cut off the lure or hook from the leader, and then let the line pay out behind a moving boat.  Let out the amount that was out during the fight.

If you hold the line slack in front of the reel and it doesn’t jump into a twist, you are back to fresh, untwisted line.  This is how I check to see if the line is untwisted enough while reeling it back in.

Drag the line for about a minute or so.  You can do it while running, but tighten the drag and pay attention because there will be a lot of pressure on the line.  (Don’t forget to reset the drag or else “zing pow.”) Hold your rod tip near the water, and pump the rod to facilitate the untwisting.  Reel back in under tension and do the slack line test earlier mentioned at various intervals as you bring it in.  Then retie your hook and you’re ready for another round.

If a spool of line gets extremely twisty, it’s best to set it aside, or pop on a spare spool of fresh line that is ready to go.  We check our lines on the way out in the morning and after each big fish fight.  You don’t have to do it after most small fish unless there have been a bunch of them.

With braided lines becoming more common the problem is lessened, but we still like mono for many types of applications.

LDWF Sets 2016 Recreational Red Snapper Season

Louisiana waters officially extended from three to nine miles offshore for reef fish management

LDWF Secretary Robert Barham announced that the 2016 red snapper fishing season in state waters will begin at 6:00 a.m. on January 8, 2016 and remain open until further notice. The season will run seven days a week in state waters with a daily bag and possession limit of two fish per person at a 16-inch minimum total length.

“LDWF will do everything we can to provide our anglers the opportunity to harvest their share of this healthy and thriving resource,” said Barham.

Assistant Secretary, Randy Pausina said, “Through LA Creel, our recreational landings data collection program, we’re able to monitor how much red snapper our anglers harvest in real time. With this data, we can ensure our recreational fishery is fully accountable—we’re able to set a fishing season that allows our anglers to harvest their entire share of the catch but also close the season in time to prevent over harvest.”

Louisiana waters officially extended from three to nine miles offshore for reef fish management

Recently signed into law, the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act includes a provision to temporarily extend Louisiana state waters to nine nautical miles for fishery management purposes, an effort championed by LDWF Secretary Robert Barham during his tenure at the agency.

Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, added the provision to the Act to push state waters for reef fish management in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama (currently three miles) to nine miles to match the current state water boundaries of Florida and Texas. “We are grateful for the additional provision by Senator Shelby and the recognition by Congress of the nine-mile boundary the State of Louisiana has claimed since 2012,” said Secretary Barham. “Because the 2016 Omnibus Appropriation Act applies to the current federal fiscal year, the nine-mile extension is only temporary. However, Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA) has proposed a more permanent solution through H.R. 3094; he and his bill have our agency’s full support.”

Secretary Barham worked hand in hand with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission and Louisiana state legislators for years to ensure Louisiana’s fishing boundaries are equal with those of Texas and Florida. In 2011, Louisiana state legislators passed Act 336, recognizing that the Gulfward boundary of Louisiana’s state waters historically consisted of three marine leagues (9 nautical miles) and designating that boundary to be enforced by state law for the protection and restoration of coastal lands, waters and natural resources, and regulation of activities affecting them.

Following the direction of our state legislators and at the request of Secretary Barham, the Commission officially extended state waters from three nautical miles offshore to nine nautical miles offshore for fisheries management purposes and for the benefit of Louisiana fishermen. Secretary Barham said, “I was simply correcting an injustice. If our Florida and Texas neighbors fish a nine-mile state boundary, so should Louisiana fishermen. Unfortunately, it has taken over three years for action on this issue and that action is only temporary. I look forward to the day that all fishermen are treated equally across the Gulf of Mexico.”  Although this congressional action is only temporary, it is a step forward for Louisiana fishermen and is a direct result of Secretary Barham’s continued vigilance on this issue. “Louisiana fishermen will benefit from improved access and more flexible management of the reef fish fishery in the waters off Louisiana,” said LDWF Assistant Secretary of Fisheries Randy Pausina. “And without Secretary Barham’s initial leadership claiming a nine-mile state water boundary for our fishermen, this would not have gained the momentum it needed to be carried through Congress,” said Billy Broussard, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commissioner.

Recreational Offshore Landing Permit

LDWF reminds anglers and charter captains that they must have a Recreational Offshore Landing Permit to possess certain species, including red snapper. They may obtain or renew the permit, free of charge at rolp.wlf.la.gov. Anglers and charter captains may renew their permits up to 30 days prior to expiration. They must have a valid Louisiana fishing license number to obtain a permit; they may use their confirmation number for a temporary (trip) permit.

Minors (under 16) are not required to obtain a Recreational Offshore Landing Permit. Customers on a paid-for-hire charter trip also do not need this permit.