Despite relatively balmy weather so far this fall in Louisiana, hunting guides gave generally positive duck reports on Wednesday in advance of this weekend's Coastal Zone opener.
“We’re seeing a lot of birds,” said Capt. Cody Obiol, with Cajun Fishing Adventures in Buras. “We have a lot of blue-wings, a good bit of green-wings, and lots of pintail and gray ducks. We even have widgeon down right now.”
And despite the remnants of Hurricane Patricia that caused extensive flooding in some parts of the state late last month, Obiol said the high water it brought hasn’t had much of an adverse effect.
“A lot of the feed is still in place. Some of the duck potatoes and things that grow only in fresh water died off a little bit, but we still have a lot of underwater vegetation in there,” he said. “And the (Mississippi) river is coming back up a little bit, so that ought to help sustain what’s left.
“This should be a really good weekend looking at what’s down right now. I’m glad to see them, because I was a little nervous without having any cold fronts yet. But we went to build duck blinds Tuesday, and they had a ton of birds out there.”
Over in Delacroix, Capt. Chris Pike with Cast & Blast Charters had a similar report.
“We have a lot of teal, mostly blue-wings. Not many big ducks yet, a few grays,” Pike said. “We’ve seen a few pintail, but everything looks good. We have plenty of feed still — that high water didn’t blow any of that out.”
With high temperatures in the 80s expected this week, Pike said things will get even better once a solid cold front passes through.
“I don’t think we’re going to see many big ducks until we get a good front,” he said. “But there are plenty of teal for everybody to shoot at, so it should be a good weekend.”
In Caernarvon, Sportsman TV producer Jared Serigné said the water level was 1 to 2 feet higher than normal earlier this week, but teal were everywhere.
“It’s the highest water I’ve ever seen before duck season. It’s high enough to where you will see water everywhere in the marsh grass. There’s no end to the water,” Serigné said. “All of our ducks are majority blue-winged and green-winged teal. You ride though any little stretch of marsh and can count 2- to 3,000 getting up.
“So we tried not to ride around too much. We wanted to let them just lay down in the marsh and feed and rest, and hunt them on Saturday. It’s chocked-full right now.”
In the Houma area, Capt. Anthony Kyzar with Cajun Fishing and Hunting Charters said teal were thick.
“We’re covered up in blue-winged teal, and we have some grays over in the brackish marsh,” Kyzar said. “But we haven’t seen any redheads yet with the mild weather we’re having.”
Poule d'eau started showing up in numbers last week, he said.
“That’s a good sign,” Kyzar said. “Usually when we start seeing those, we know the migration has started up pretty good.”
A little push of cold air will make a big difference for big ducks, he said.
“We’re one good front away from just being covered up in ducks, so we’re just praying for a good front,” he said.
In Cameron Parish, Capt. Nick Poe with Big Lake Guide Service said teal were abundant in the western part of the state, as well.
“Lots of teal and lots of gray ducks,” said Poe, who hunts in the marshes near Sweet Lake. “But a whole lot of teal.
“I hope they stick around for a little while, because that’s the most teal I’ve seen in a few years. There’s a bunch of teal.”
But David Faul, with Bin There Hunting in Welsh, said he hadn’t seen many birds at all in the rice fields on his farm.
“I’m seeing the same ones from when teal season ended,” Faul said with a chuckle. “I think I named them all. It’s not looking real good.”
Faul said he hasn’t finished harvesting his second crop of rice, so several of his blinds aren’t usable yet.
“I’m excited to start hunting, but I’m not excited to start now. We’re just not prepared,” he said. “We’re cutting second crop and we’re still blowing and going, then we’re trying to start with duck hunting in between all that. It’s stupid.”
So far, he’s seen relatively few teal holding on his property.
“It sure is looking bleak right now,” he said. “I’m trying to kill the ants around my blind today, and I’ve yet to see a duck.”