Just three days ahead of Louisiana’s teal season opener, reports of birds vary widely by region across the state — but everyone is hoping a forecasted late-week cool front brings more teal down ahead of legal shooting time Saturday morning.
“We’re seeing lots of birds in Buras,” said Capt. Ryan Lambert, with Cajun Fishing Adventures. “We saw a lot this week, and they had tons of birds last week.
“The full moon brought in a ton, and this cool front coming this weekend is going to really bring them down. We ought to have a really, really good opening.”
The only issue Lambert faces on his leases is thick vegetation in many of his ponds.
“The river was up for 10 months at historic levels, so the only thing I’m worried about is where am I going to put my decoys,” he said. “I have water, but it’s under the grass. I’m just going to throw the decoys out in the grass.
“Everything has grown, and it’s wonderful. It’s going to be such a fantastic year if we don’t get a storm… If we don’t get a tidal surge to ruin this, it will be historic numbers down here.”
Over in the rice fields of Welsh, David Faul with Bin There Hunting said last month’s early cool front brought birds down – but he hasn’t seen too many since then.
“I don’t think they’re in the numbers they should be, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the front coming Thursday or Friday night will bring some more in,” he said. “The people around have been telling me there’s some in the marsh, and some of the neighbors are holding a couple hundred birds. It’s nothing really to brag on yet, but I hope that front does us some good.”
Capt. Nick Poe, with Big Lake Guide Service in Lake Charles, said he hasn’t seen too many birds so far on his lease in the marsh near Sweet Lake.
“We’re seeing a few, but nothing that impressive that I’ve seen,” Poe said. “From what I hear there’s lots of birds, but you just don’t see them much at this time. They don’t move much right now.
“So if they’re in the rice, when the shooting starts, then I’ll start seeing them.”
Brett Herring, with ShellShocked Guide Service in Pineville, said things don’t look promising at all for opening day on Catahoula Lake. The late drawdown hasn’t allowed for much vegetation growth, and he said the water level is being held lower than normal.
“To try to grow the millet and stuff that grows out in the center of the lake, they’re having to hold the water about 6 inches lower than normal,” Herring said. “We probably lost 2,000 acres of water that we normally have. Therefore, we have a limited amount of water and about the same amount of people wanting to hunt, so it’s a pretty pressured area right now…
“It’s by far probably going to be one of the worst years for teal simply because they can’t hold the water where they normally do.”
But Herring, who plans to hunt private leases in Evangeline and Avoyelles Parishes with his customers this weekend, is hopeful birds will show up in good numbers by Saturday morning.
“I think what we’re about to see — when those birds in MIssouri get a 19-degree temperature drop for the high from Tuesday to Friday, those birds are coming south,” he said. “They’re also going to open up the seasons up there, and they’re going to blow a lot of those birds off.
“You combine that with a 12 to 15 mile per hour north wind, and those birds are coming south.”
In Venice, Capt. Damon McKnight with Super Strike Charters said he hasn’t seen many teal yet, but predicted they would make it down in time for opening weekend.
“”I haven’t seen a bunch yet, but they’ll be here. They’re here every year right as scheduled,” McKnight said. “We haven’t had any weather, and the grass is thicker than ever. So they’ll be here, I guarantee you.
“Everything is too good.”
Larry Reynolds, the waterfowl study leader for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said he’s been hearing encouraging reports about teal showing up in different parts of the state.
“Our crews are out banding wood ducks now starting a couple of weeks ago, and started seeing blue-winged teal showing up at some of their banding sites,” Reynolds said.
Weather permitting, Reynolds will be conducting the September aerial teal survey today through Friday, and will have his report completed next week.