School’s out; prime time for hunting, fishing trip | Sports

Deer are moving, fish are biting and, hopefully, ducks and geese are flying, squirrels are in the hardwoods and fall’s first frost removed the lush cover for rabbits — and most school-aged children have the week off.

What’s a dad and mom to do?

Get them outside. Except for a rainy Thanksgiving Day, this week’s weather is perfect for extended outdoor activities. Besides, isn’t Thanksgiving the day when we should be inside celebrating this feast of fried, baked, roasted or smoked turkey, dressing, dirty rice, sweet potatoes, and whatever green thing is on the table (so your mama won’t fuss about not eating something green).

Bass fishing is good as long as you’re not looking for big fish. The final Junior Southwest Bassmasters tournament this year showed the Atchafalaya and Verret basins have eager-to-bite small bass, and the same appears true in the Florida Parishes bayous and rivers.

Think about slow retrieves on the sunny days and remember the adage about bright colors for bright days – it works. On cloudy days, spinnerbaits, slowly worked crankbaits and soft-plastic creature baits should work. Remember, too, that freshwater species often retreat into heavy cover on sunny days.

We’re at a point in the fall where we have to pay attention to the barometric pressure. Believe it or not, clouds help the bass bite, and a clear, bluebird sky is an indicator of a rising and bite-killing barometer.

It’s hard to figure out why these exact conditions don’t have the same effect on the trout/redfish action.

Maybe it’s because a cold front comes with north winds that push water nearly as strong as the tides in south Louisiana’s late fall and winter months.

Sure, we only hear/learn about the big catches, but it sure looks like waters east of the Mississippi River have recovered from storm damage. The marshes are producing trout, redfish and bass, and all on the same lures, mostly soft plastics on a jighead and under a cork. The same is true in southern Lafourche Parish.

Ms. River update

The extraordinarily low water gave rise to fishing the river south of Buras for redfish and bass, and trout, drum and flounder farther south.

Federal river watcher Jeff Graschel reported what was left of Hurricane Nicole produced rain runoff that created a rise as high as 8-10 feet on the upper reaches of the Ohio River valley. And that swell meant a stage 10 feet higher than the early-week stage at Cairo, Illinois.

This rise will move into the Mississippi and we will see rises along the river for the next 28 days.

Graschel also said, “The 16-day future rainfall model shows another rise on the lower Ohio River at the end of November and the first week of December. This would keep stages elevated through the second week of December and well above modern day records that occurred in October.”

Whitetails

All 10 state deer-hunting areas are open to archery and modern firearms season — some with bucks-only take — and various stages of the rutting season and the colder conditions should have bucks on the move.

Talking deer hunting with Danny Lemoine last week, and he mentioned an interesting tactic.

He said he plants food plots, but doesn’t hunt them. Instead, he scouts for the paths deer travel to reach those plots.

“Most deer hunters know deer are wary about entering open spaces, and almost never go into the middle of a plot,” Lemoine said. “They feed on the edges, and if you’re set up on the wrong side of the plot you might never see a deer. I know I’m most successful scouting and setting up where the deer are moving to a plot and might be less wary along the trail than they are entering a plot.

“And, how many times have you seen a deer look straight at you in a stand when they enter a plot,” he said. “Heck, they know where the stands are, and if you move, they’re gone.”

Time to share

Hunters for the Hungry’s Phase II is in full swing and the group is making a push to beat last year’s donation of a little more than 800 deer to the program. The 2021-22 collection produced 30,000 pounds of venison to feed our state’s needy.

Hunters are allowed to keep the backstrap and tenderloins before taking deer to a number of statewide processors. Some processors will take unskinned and field-dressed deer.

“You deliver the harvest to the processor, we cover the costs and the protein is delivered to a food bank or shelter in your community.” H4H executive director Julie Grunewald said

For a list of processors, go to the H4H website: h4hla.org/processors.

And, if you’re fishing Venice-area waters and want to donate your catch, then Venice Marina has a freezer to handle your donation. These efforts gathered nearly 5,000 pounds of fish.

Bands news

Duck hunters call them “jewelry,” those bands they remove from their take during the waterfowl season. While these bands can be taken from geese, too, it’s the duck bands placed near their webbed feet that serve a purpose for federal and state waterfowl biologists.

Long ago, reporting a duck with a band involved sending the band to the federal Bird Banding Lab. Then a hotline was set up whereby a hunter could call in the number on the band, give a location where the bird was taken, then receive a certificate indicating where and when the duck was banded — and you could keep the band, a real treasure for wild waterfowlers.

Well, this season, the Eastern Ecological Science Center’s Bird Banding Lab sent out a notice the toll-free reporting telephone line (800-327-2263) “… is currently inaccessible for those reporting from within the United States.”

Lab managers said they are working on the problem and will let the public know when the hotline is serviceable.

You can still report a bird with a federal band or auxiliary marker by going to the lab’s website: reportband.gov.

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