Getting ready for red snapper season

(Photo courtesy Maggie Harelson)
(Photo courtesy Maggie Harelson)

Louisiana anglers get weekends until quota is met

Larry Doiron Jr. of Stephensville planned to celebrate his 51st birthday on May 22 doing what he loves.

Like many Louisiana anglers, his intention is to take his big boat into the Gulf of Mexico and enjoy the opening of the 2020 recreational red snapper season, set earlier in May set by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission.

Based on his experience and past hauls, he and his family members will return with the two-fish limit per person.

“My family’s real excited. We’re ready to get out and fish. All that COVID stuff,” Doiron said. “It’s a blessing I fish with my family. Before I leave the dock, I’ve got six of us in the boat. I make memories every time because we go with family. If I bring a buddy, we still go with family.”

And, he said, enthusiastically, “It ought to be a good season.”

The upcoming season

Hunter Adams, future son-in-law of Larry Doiron Jr., hefts a huge red snapper caught on Doiron's Reel Deal on a trip out of Grand Isle.
Hunter Adams, future son-in-law of Larry Doiron Jr., hefts a huge red snapper caught on Doiron’s Reel Deal on a trip out of Grand Isle.

The western Gulf of Mexico’s red snapper population hasn’t been touched by Louisiana fishermen for a little more than five months. The Sportsman’s Paradise is operating under its first year of state-delegated management, which allows the state agency to manage the recreational red snapper season in state and federal waters.

The season consists of weekends-only (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, including Memorial Day Monday). LWFC said the season will stay open until recreational landings approach or reach the state’s annual allocation of 784,332 pounds, or 19.1-percent of the Gulf-wide private angling quota adjusted for last year’s average.

Doiron and other fishermen planned to start working on that quota when the season opened. The two-fish per person limit includes a 16-inch minimum length limit.

His crew May 22 will include his wife, Angela Fuller Doiron, daughters Ashley, 26, and Molly, 13, and son, Joseph, 21.

Doiron has been targeting red snapper, among other offshore species, since he started going with his father, Larry Doiron Sr., in the early 1980s. He’ll head to the Eugene Island blocks and mostly fish the Eugene Island area after launching from Berwick Boat Landing, sometimes putting in at Bridge Side Marina. He doesn’t have to venture very far from Grand Isle to get into red snapper water — generally 200 feet deep. It’s a different story from the Morgan City area but he doesn’t mind the 1-hour, 15-minute ride.

What he uses

Doiron will more than likely be using blackfin tuna for cut bait. He has some frozen from past catches, or he’ll catch a blackfin for fresh cut bait.

If he can’t get his hands on blackfin, menhaden and Spanish sardines will be served once they get to 150-foot and deeper water in the Eugene Island field, where he fishes old wrecks and abandoned oil platforms. He’ll usually avoid structures frequented by many red snapper anglers, unless he wants to catch mangrove snapper, too.

Bigger baits fished in deeper water will usually result in a bigger class of red snapper, according to angler Larry Doiron.
Bigger baits fished in deeper water will usually result in a bigger class of red snapper, according to angler Larry Doiron. (Photo courtesy Jake Cologne)

Doiron will use four to six rods, depending on who’s on board. There are times when it’s just family he’ll give Molly, who hasn’t missed an offshore trip since she was an infant, a fishing rod with an electronic reel and five hooks and let her catch the limit for all aboard.

Doiron, who owns Doiron’s Landing in Stephensville, does more than target red snapper; he targets BIG red snapper. Most of the fish he keeps average 10 pounds, but when he’s fishing a fishing rodeo, like the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo, he aims for a 15- to 17-pound average.

His fishing rigs are armed with 13/0 Mustad circle hooks. Depending on the current, he’ll use an 8-ounce weight, but if it’s strong sometimes it takes an 8-pound weight, he said, “with a BIG piece of cut bait. The bigger the bait, the bigger the fish.”

Also, he said, “I find the deeper the water, the bigger the fish.”

The baits usually are dropped to 15 feet off the bottom and up through the water column until the red snapper are located.

“We read the depth finder and see where the fish are,” Doiron said. We let different people in the boat try different depths and go from there.”

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Don Shoopman
About Don Shoopman 384 Articles
Don Shoopman fishes for freshwater and saltwater species mostly in and around the Atchafalaya Basin and Vermilion Bay. He moved to the Sportsman’s Paradise in 1976, and he and his wife June live in New Iberia. They have two grown sons.

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