Outdoor Corner: Wildlife, Trout, and Tucker

Lyle Johnson
Plaquemine Post South

This week I'm heading to Breckenridge, Colorado to visit my daughter Gabby and her family. Deborah and I left out Friday morning at 6:15 heading to the new airport in New Orleans. It just so happens that our entry onto I-10 coincides with day break which means we'll get to see wood ducks flying during their morning ritual.

Right on cue as daylight breaks, they start crossing the interstate mostly in pairs. They are preparing for nesting season. It's amazing how they fly through the air at high speeds in darkness, only climbing up a little to cross the road, then back down into the trees.

As we cross Lake Pontchartrain and the marshes, the sky lightens and is filled with all species of birds. Nearing the end of the marshes there is the eagle's nest that's been there for years. Perched in a tree next to the nest is one of the eagles, getting ready for its morning ritual. The eggs laid have probably hatched already. The pair will be foraging for food that they need themselves and a little more to feed the chicks. The beginning of our trip starts out pretty good as we turn to enter the airport.

We had a great flight in and lots of hugs took place at the Denver airport. We loaded all our stuff up and set out for Breckenridge. Not far down the road we spotted four mule deer to begin our wildlife sightings.

A little farther along the way there was a big flock of Canadian geese in a small lake. Then, the highlight of the trip took place as a herd of about fifty or so bison were heading somewhere in a small hurry.

This weekend just happened to be the 30th Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships so we took a little time out to view the sixteen entries. Teams from as far away as Argentina, India, and Mongolia along with along with five teams from the U.S. took five days to carve 20-ton blocks of snow to achieve their final results.

Team Mexico won the 1st place prize for its carving of "Greed." The team has won two consecutive years. The sculpture features a giant king ravenously eating some food while sitting on a pile of it. The theme is "There is a fine line between wanting more and having enough."

A little closer to home

On January 21, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries added big-time opportunities to catch rainbow trout by stocking seven bodies of water around the state with 2,300 pounds of adult-size rainbow trout.

So along with the trout that Ascension Parish stocked at Lamar Dixon, there are three other ponds within a short drive to add to the list. One location is BREC's Burbank Park, 12400 Burbank Drive in Baton Rouge. Two more are Sidney Hutchinson Park, 13750 Ball Park Road in Walker and at Zemurray Park 400 S Oak Street in Hammond.

This effort is part of the department's Get Out and Fish! program, which makes it easy for families to be introduced to a successful fishing trip. These fish are easy to catch, and the ponds are near neighborhoods. We hope this will be a great opportunity for families to get hooked on fishing.

This is the only time of year the Get Out and Fish! sites are stocked with rainbow trout. Rainbow trout are native to rivers and lakes in western North America. Yet due to their popularity, these fish have been introduced throughout the U.S. through stocking efforts.

LDWF takes advantage of the cooler water temperatures of winter to stock our ponds, as rainbow trout will not survive the warmer water temperatures of spring and summer here in Louisiana.

If you're going to fish, all anglers 16 and older must possess a Louisiana fishing license when fishing in any Louisiana public waters. Licenses are available for purchase online at https://la-web.s3licensing.com. For additional information on the program, follow on Facebook @ldwfgetoutandfish or visit the website.

Get Out and Fish! is hosted in conjunction with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation. The LWFF was formed to provide a means for individuals and corporations to become partners with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission in the challenge of conserving Louisiana's wildlife and fish resources.

Next, just a quick reminder about the "Fishing for Tucker" tournament that’s in its tenth year and has become one of the most popular tournaments of the season. The date for the early season event is this Saturday, February 1. One of the big changes will be the location.

Cabela's in Gonzales has graciously hosted the Tucker Tournament for nine years, but this year all the activities will be held at Doiron's Landing in Stephensville. The registration fee and payout will remain the same, $100 per team. The payout for the first place team will be determined by participation - $1,000 with 50 teams registered, or $2,000 for 100 teams. Additionally, $500 will be awarded for Big Bass.

Anglers must launch at Doiron's Landing (either behind the store, behind the old carwash, or on the spillway side). Moreover, anglers are allowed to trailer their boats to switch sides between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. only.

Anglers will be allowed to switch sides of the levee once. Anyone switching sides must have their boats checked by a tournament official behind the store by the Pavilion prior to re-launching. Failure to have your boat checked prior to re-launching will result in automatic disqualification. Angler teams will still be able to sign up at the launch for a $25 late fee.

So, from Baldy Mountain at 10,000 ft. elevation, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Have fun in the outdoors, be safe and my God truly bless you!

Lyle Johnson is a free-lance writer, co-host of Ascension Outdoors TV and Curator of the Louisiana State Fish Records. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net.

Outdoor Calendar

EASL Monthly Meeting:3rd Monday every month, East Ascension Sportsman's League meeting held at Gonzales Fire Dept on Orice Roth Rd. starting at 7:00 p.m. A meal served and special speaker will be in attendance.

Squirrel, Quail, & Rabbit Season: Through Feb. 29, open statewide on private lands only. Daily bag limit 8 and possession limit 24.

Fishing for Tucker Bass Classic: Feb 1 held out of Doiron's Landing in Stephensville. Entry fee $100 per two angler team. $2000 first place payout based on 100 boats. All info on www.fishingfortucker.com or call Ryan Lavigne 225-921-9332.

Krewe of Diversion Mardi Gras Boat Parade: Feb 15 beginning at noon from Canal Bank to Manny's on the Amite River. $35 per boat sign up at Manny's on Feb 14 6:00 p.m. Contact David or Vivian Stevens 225-939-2135 or 225-324-5695.

Anything Outdoors/St Jude Bass Classic: March 28 — save the date. New, bigger and better.

Need an event publicized? Contact Lyle at reelman@eatel.net