Trophy lake status, part II

Take a seat on the bench and listen to Grand Isle fisherman Curtis Gisclair. His offshore tactics will assure you of victory.

Last month in this space, I called for the state to impose a stricter limit on speckled trout caught in Calcasieu Lake than that which applies across the rest of the coast. I invited readers to voice their opinions on, and boy, did they ever.

The responses were as passionate as I expected. You cannot mess with something that so many people hold so dear without feeling a jolt of recoil. I was genuinely, sincerely interested in hearing all opinions on the topic, both pro and con, and I read every post on our web site about the subject.

Though I haven’t taken out my sliding scale and calculator, I’d say about 70 percent of the respondents were in favor of the proposal, about 25 percent were opposed to it and about 5 percent — well, I had no idea exactly what your position was.

Having listened to those who oppose the idea, I still think a trophy-lake designation for Calcasieu would be an excellent move.

Much of the opposition sounded similar to this post by Larry Doty of Baton Rouge:

“I think we should leave determination of the necessity for changes in size and number limits on speckled trout to the marine biologists. They’re the experts and I don’t hear them raising the issue.”

Mr. Doty’s absolutely correct; marine biologists are not raising the issue. But neither were they raising the issue about the need for a statewide net ban.

The reason? Because a statewide net ban wasn’t biologically necessary. Would speckled trout have been totally wiped out in our state if our legislators hadn’t enacted a gill net ban? No, of course not. So biologically speaking, a statewide net ban wasn’t needed.

But without it, Louisiana wouldn’t have had the outstanding run of speckled trout it’s seen in the last five years, and not nearly as many dollars from recreational fishermen and tourists would have been hurled into the state’s coffers.

It all just depends on what you want. If you had a 5,000-acre tract of land, you could shoot every doe and small buck you see in hopes of raising a few monster bucks, or you could choose to not shoot any deer for a few years so that your land will be overrun with a gazillion small deer. Neither is necessarily a poor management strategy, but they’ll produce decidedly different results.

Another example is with lottery hunts. The state requires hunters to apply for a lottery in order to hunt certain WMAs at certain times. The reason is so that the hunting experience can be made more enjoyable and the chances of success be made higher for those who are fortunate enough to get drawn. Is it biologically necessary to limit some WMAs to lottery hunts? No, it isn’t. Some deer would survive every year even if the place were overrun with hunters.

Again, it all just depends on what you want. Designating Calcasieu as a trophy-trout lake isn’t biologically necessary. I’ll certainly admit that. But I think it’d be a smart move. Anglers would still get to take home 15 fish each (which is plenty), and more of the fish that have made Calcasieu famous — the trophies — would be protected.

Louisiana bass anglers already have two trophy lakes. Shouldn’t trout fishermen have at least one? And what better one to have than Calcasieu Lake?

Let’s be progressive rather than reactive.

About Todd Masson 743 Articles
Todd Masson has covered outdoors in Louisiana for a quarter century, and is host of the Marsh Man Masson channel on YouTube.