January 2012 - Volume 32, Number 1


Like the mythological phoenix, Bayou Bienvenue has risen from the dregs and burst into life.

Everybody wondered if the fishing action around Bayou Bienvenue could ever recover. Like so many other fishing areas in Southeast Louisiana, Bayou Bienvenue was adversely affected by the BP oil spill and the opening of the Bonnet Carre spillway. Two big whammies of that magnitude hitting back-to-back were enough to put most fisheries on life support. And as if that weren’t enough, Bayou Bienvenue faced more uncertainty than any other area because of the dam built across the MRGO in Chalmette, and the closure of Seabrook.

If you hunt North Louisiana and you think your best days for this season are behind you, you couldn’t be more wrong.

In the northwest corner of Louisiana, Red River bass fishing guide Russ McVey sits in a box stand overlooking a pipeline with his daughter Madison about to run out of iPod battery. They hope a buck trying to recover from the rut wants to grab a few kernels of corn.

Use this strategy to catch bass at all stages of their winter doldrums.

A huge gap exists between amateurs and professionals in most sports.

Tune your lures to appeal to the bass base.

This one leans to the left; that one goes far right. Here’s one that keeps a centrist course.

Throw a few change-ups at pesky late-season ducks, and you’ll have them dropping into your decoys deep into January.

Imagine if every time you went to your refrigerator or pantry someone was there to smack you over the head just as you reached in for something to eat. You’re starving, craving your favorite snack, then out of nowhere, BLAM! Suddenly something prevents you from filling your stomach and satisfying your hunger, or more importantly, something stands in the way of you surviving.

In Welsh, there’s at least one rice farmer who prefers some company.

The open rice field made Rick Moore’s hail call ring off into the distance with no bounce back — just fading notes — much like those coming from one of his blinds just east of us. We were working the same group of birds, and from the volley of gunfire that followed, what the ducks saw in their set up must have looked better than what they saw in ours.

Think big and plant big, and you’ll see wildlife benefits for decades to come.

In my lifetime, I have only known the Delta to be an expanse of rowed-up dirt that is planted annually with various crops that feed and clothe the world. Deltans can look across a field that continues for miles with no apparent end. Approaching lightning storms on hot summer nights can be viewed from what seems to be as far away as Texas.

Anglers have been hoping the future for snapper would begin to clear, but the species still faces thunder clouds on the horizon.

It is your classic good-news/bad-news tale. The good news is there are more red snapper around the oil rigs in the northern Gulf of Mexico today than ever before, and they are much bigger than they have ever been. The bad news is the limit on red snapper remains at two per angler per day, and the season has been cut to just 49 days.

There’s not much left for deer to eat, so you may need to manipulate your woods to give them something.

No Hollywood premier generated such anticipation. The capacity crowd waiting for the Rolling Stones to finally strut onto the Superdome stage in 1989 seemed pathetically blase’ compared to this crowd. The one stomping the Tad Gormley bleachers for the Beatles in ’64 had nothing on this bunch. Even the Jazz Fest crowd craving Vince Vance and Benny Grunch and the — whoops! Now THAT’s going TOO far! I’m losing all sense of proportion here. Getting carried away. Sorry.