By Chris Holmes, WF360 Louisiana Migration Editor
On the heels of the East Zone opener, Louisiana hunters are looking forward to the long Thanksgiving weekend and traditional extended hunts. Coastal and West Zone hunters found relatively good shooting with the help of a strong cold front that moved through on cue for opening weekend. An additional push of cold air and some light freezing temperatures during the following week kept hunters busy. However, with a warmup by the second weekend and no major cold-front activity in the immediate future, hunting has slowed in most of those areas.
Captain Rene Dandry guides for Cajun Fishing Adventures in Buras. “The season started great with most boats limiting out over the first several days. However, it has been slow recently,” he says. “We are scratching out a couple of limits per boat, but it has been tough.”
Tony Cyprus Jr. and his hunting partners Nick Sicomo and Larry D’Aquin are regulars at Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Louisiana. Due to last week’s northwest winds, the East Zone’s opening weekend featured low water levels and small numbers of ducks. A mixed bag of blue-winged teal and coots was topped off by a drake wood duck for Cyprus and a greenhead for Sicomo.
“Not much in our local marsh, but I hope that changes soon,” Cyprus says. “I had missed opportunities at a couple of gray ducks and even a snow goose. I’m looking forward to getting in some midweek hunts.”
In northeast Louisiana, Jeff Simmons of Simmons Sporting Goods had high hopes for the East Zone opening weekend. Primed by an unusual November dusting of snow across the area, something that had not happened there for many decades, Simmons was optimistic before the weekend began.
However, his first two days of the opener did not go as predicted. “Unfortunately, a second round of rain midweek moved lots of ducks out of here. Opening day left a lot to be desired. We killed three ducks. It was really slow,” Simmons says. “The ducks did stack up in some areas off Hwy 15 and down at Alto, but around Mer Rouge, they pretty well whipped us. Be patient. It’s a long season. We will get them.”
Not all the news is bad, however. Captain Jon Despino at Shell Shocked Guide Service hunted a flooded timber lake near Jonesville. “We did very well. Fourteen limits by 7:30 a.m., with lots of teal and grays,” he reports. “There are no ducks in the fields.”
Dalton Lemoine runs DL Guide Service on Catahoula Lake. “The water is high on the lake and there are few puddle ducks. However, there are lots of divers,” he says. “We had a good opening weekend with canvasbacks, ringnecks, and several redheads.”
Hackberry Rod and Gun Club in southwest Louisiana continues to put up consistent numbers since the season opened there a week ago. “In the first seven days, we harvested over 1,400 ducks, averaging 13 ducks per blind per day,” says owner Kirk Stansel.
Reports across the country are showing that plenty of ducks are still holding in states to the north. As frigid weather begins icing over large expanses of open water, more and more ducks will continue heading south. There is still plenty of season left, and Louisiana hunters are eager to greet these new birds when they arrive.
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A lifelong resident of southeast Louisiana, Chris Holmes is a freelance writer, avid waterfowl hunter, and fisherman. He will be providing Louisiana migration, habitat, and hunting alerts to Waterfowl360 throughout the 2018–2019 wa-terfowl season.