We all knew it was coming. In fact, most folks believed it was way past time when it finally happened.
So the announcement of Charlie Melancon’s resignation as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in mid-December came as no surprise.
In fact, it came as a relief for pretty much anyone interested in recreational angling in Louisiana.
Melancon’s stint as the agency’s leader was short — less than a year — but it was marked by conflict with the recreational fishing community and morale within the agency that was at an all-time low.
What surprised everyone was that Gov. John Bel Edwards agreed to let Melancon continue leading the LDWF until March — a setup doomed to failure. The resignation instantly turned the secretary into a lame duck, and one who seemed bent on ruining any chance to salvage his reputation by blaming everyone but himself for the disaster that was his administration.
Fortunately, the saga ended when Melancon finally threw in the towel at the end of the year.
Now we have a new LDWF secretary moving into place. Jack Montoucet, who has served as a state representative, took over Jan. 16.
Even before his official duties began, there were indications he will rebuild the agency’s relationship with Louisiana’s anglers.
That doesn’t mean everything will go back to the pre-Melancon days at LDWF. Montoucet has said he would continue to oversee financial reforms following the state audit showing mishandling of funds after the BP oil spill. And that’s a positive thing: All indications are that money intended for the recovery of our coastal fisheries was frittered away on all manner of equipment — some of which vanished into the ether.
And before Montoucet walked in the door, the agency already was in consultation with Coastal Conservation Association-Louisiana officials about continuing the TAG Louisiana program canceled by Melancon’s administration, which made the absurd contention that volunteer-based tagging program didn’t provide useful data.
Most importantly, Montoucet is one of us. He has spent a career raising alligators and, while that is a commercial endeavor, it points to the fact that he has some understanding of the issues we sportsmen hold near and dear.
Will we always agree? Probably not.
But it’s nice to know we can at least talk with someone who speaks our language.