By design, it probably shouldn’t work this way, but it’s pretty common for Louisiana’s fishing rules and regulations to get tweaked or tumbled when the Louisiana Legislature goes “fishing” in Baton Rouge every spring. This year is no exception. There are several changes worthy of note coming following our recent session, most notably regarding crappie — specifically possession limits, filets on the water and the up and down and apparently up again Lake D’Arbonne daily limit.
Here’s the story: Lots of folks that fish on massive 197,000 acre Toledo Bend like to go for three or four days and catch a bunch of white perch, eat some, clean a bunch and take them home to Missouri or Tennessee or Lafayette or wherever. They felt the current limits of 25 fish per day and a 50 fish possession limit per angler were too restrictive and wanted to have a 100 fish per person possession limit. One person who felt the same way was Representative Frankie Howard of Many. The former sheriff put the old rules in jail when he helped pass HB 719 that raised the possession limit to 100 white perch per fisherman in effect for Toledo Bend only. That may ruffle some feathers since it appears to conflict with Louisiana-Texas reciprocal agreements, but it is what it is. Texas limits are lower.
Also part of the bill is an agreement that he and others apparently reached with LDWF that added something the fisheries experts had been wanting for a long time. It will now be illegal to filet fish on the water (with a few exceptions for overnight island campers, houseboaters, etc., who can clean up to two pounds of fish per day per person to eat on the spot). That’s a good thing because fishermen have been able to filet fish, cut them up and ice them down in the boat. There was no way to tell exactly what and how many they had caught. You can’t do that with saltwater fish. You can’t do that with ducks, etc. Logic suggests that freshwater game fish should be treated the same.
As that bill moved through the Legislative process, Senator Gerald Long of Winnfield, Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, and an avid sportsman added an amendment in reaction to complaints he had been hearing about the new 25-fish per day limit for white perch up that went into effect earlier this year on Lake D’Arbonne. The new amendment now raises the daily limit back to 50 fish per day per person. That means possession limit will be 100. That’s good news for those that cursed the new limit as too restrictive. That’s bad news for those that praised the lower limit as a way to help restore larger number of slabs that have obviously been in decline on the lake in recent years.
It is what it is. Here’s the bottom line: All this is packaged up, voted on and passed and now it is on the desk of Governor Bobby Jindal. There’s no reason to think he won’t sign it. When he does, after an official 20-day waiting period, these changes will become law. I’m sure we’ll hear official word in a news release from the LDWF when it becomes law. It should be within the next month or six weeks. For right now, though, all the old laws still apply. Stay tuned…