BATON ROUGE, La. — The guys and gals lining up to get to Grand Isle for the country's oldest competitive fishing event thought the red snapper season ended July 17.
And not the case for the 14th annual Faux Pas Rodeo at Venice. Both events run Thursday through Saturday.
In late June, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries received notice that the IGITR and the Faux Pas were among seven offshore fishing events granted a limited number of permits in the National Marine Fisheries Service's Exempted Fishing Permits program.
After an extension to the recreational red snapper season pushed the close of the season from July 10 to July 17, five rodeos needed the permits, including the July 20-22 Alabama Deep Sea Rodeo and the monthlong Destin Fishing Rodeo in Florida in October.
Grand Isle, Faux Pas and the by-invitation-only Louisiana CCA Rodeo at Fourchon/Grand Isle in early August have permits that allow for the monitoring of the "catch of red snapper harvested" during the event.
"The intent of this activity is to better document the age structure and biology of fish associated with offshore platforms and artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico coastal waters, and to sample fish not normally sampled by recreational fishing surveys," federal regional administrator Roy Crabtree wrote in a letter granting the LDWF's application.
The program requires state fishery agencies to oversee the permit program and "select participants from a list of registered tournament entrants," the letter further stated.
The selected anglers will be allowed to bring one red snapper to the weigh station during the permit period.
The selected anglers will be issued a special nonreusable tag that must be affixed to the red snapper before it can be brought to the weigh station and submitted for biological study, a process that usually involves weighing the fish, removing the otolith (a bone that indicates age and growth), reproductive organs and tissue sampling.
The program requires all other red snapper caught that day by an angler be returned to the water and requires the angler to complete a data sheet listing all red snapper caught and released during the daily trip.
Crabtree said, "State fishery management personnel will determine the final disposition of all fish sampled."