Conditions look good for teal-season opener despite Hurricane Isaac's passing
Birds arrived with cool front, Louisiana hunting guides say.
Plenty of blue-winged teal arrived in Louisiana with the weekend's cool front, heralding what should be a good weekend of hunting as the season gets started.
Unfortunately, Southeast Louisiana took quite a hit from Hurricane Isaac’s passing just as we tried to close the books on August. Nevertheless birds are showing up statewide, including the storm-ravaged marshes of the southeast, aided by a timely cool front having just come through over the weekend.
In the Vidalia area, Hunter Shaffett with Whispering Oaks hunting lodge (225-301-7335) said they’ve just flooded their fields in the last couple of weeks, and the birds took right to the newly-flooded habitat.
“We’ve been seeing a few birds on the area lakes for a good while, but it didn’t take long after the flooding for the birds to really show up in our fields,” Shaffett said. “We’re all really excited for the opener.”
Shaffett also pointed out that lingering drought in the area has been alleviated by Isaac’s rains helping to bring much needed water to area fields and sloughs in Northeast Louisiana.
Nick Poe with Big Lake Guide Service (337-598-3268) spent Monday out in the marshes near Big Lake, and was happy to report that the marsh is in great shape following summer rainfall. “It looks good — probably the best our marsh has looked in the last six or seven years, at least,” Poe said.
As for the birds, they’re looking good, too.
“We’ve been seeing plenty while fishing, and there are also a lot of birds holding in the rice right now,” he said. “Once the shooting starts, they’ll be headed our way.”
As others have reported, Poe said the weekend front really brought the birds down.
David Faul of Bin There Hunting (337-438-4868) in Welsh also was optimistic about the opener following the weekend’s front.
“We weren’t seeing too much until this front came through; they’ve really just shown up,” Faul reported. “As of Sunday morning we’re looking pretty good, and I’m excited for the opener.”
Faul also noted that the drought has not been an issue for their preparations for the seasons since they’re able to pump their fields. In fact, the recent rains actually brought in too much water, which tends to spread out the birds.
In the marshes of Terrebonne Parish, Roland Cortez of Cajun Fishing and Hunting Charters (985-414-4997) reported solid teal numbers despite the continued high-water conditions.
“I’m seeing about average numbers overall,” Cortez said. “Today, (I) saw some nice groups of 30 to 40 teal each, so I’m chomping at the bit for Saturday’s opener.”
He also noted that freshwater marshes of lower Terrebonne and Lafourche Parish are in great shape, with little or no impacts from the recent storm.
“I think the fresh water is going to be hot this season; Pointe-aux-Chenes WMA is also looking good,” Cortez said.
In the Delacroix and Reggio areas of St. Bernard Parish, Mike Smith of Louisiana Marsh Guide Service (504-682-1966) is gearing up for what he hopes to be a good opening weekend, despite Isaac’s untimely visit.
“The whole area took a pretty good hit with a lot of water,” Smith said. “We’re seeing birds, but they’re scattered, with a lot of smaller groups.”
Smith did note, however, that some of his best seasons have followed storm events, so he’s very optimistic for the teal and regular seasons.
“A lot of the feed was washed out, but the birds are using shallow mud flats in the broken marshes, mostly on the Delacroix side of the highway,” he added.
Smith indicated that the water is still about a foot higher than normal, so he’s yet to make a full assessment on how much feed survived in the ponds.
Venice and other lower-Mississippi River marshes are in much the same situation, having experienced significant tidal surge that was prolonged by Isaac’s slow inland movement.
Teal reports before the storm were promising, with birds showing up early this year — but they’ve scattered with the higher tides. Post-storm reports have been spotty, with Louisianasportsman.com users reporting continued high water and sporadic pockets of birds on recent scouting trips.
It looks like the birds are showing in numbers to justify plenty of optimism for this weekend’s opener. Fortunately, Isaac’s passing at least allowed for a couple of weeks of cleanup in the traditional hotspots like Delacroix, Venice and the Terrebonne marshes.
With record numbers of blue-winged teal projected to be heading our way, conditions across the state bode well throughout the September hunting season.
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