OUTDOORS: There is nothing like September in Sportman's Paradise

By: JOHN FLORES
Am I the only one that has the utmost appreciation for the month of September or are there others out there too? During the month of September you can literally put the smack down on bream in the Atchafalaya Basin or specks offshore along-side one of the many rigs out in Eugene Island in the same weekend.

You can do a drive-in dove day hunt — which by the way opens at noon this Saturday — in one of the many rice fields around Welch or Jennings and fish Big Lake for redfish near Lake Charles during the morning or afternoon, depending of course if you hunt opening day or Sunday morning.

The next weekend you can hunt blue winged teal in the morning on the Atchafalaya Delta WMA and fish for redfish and speckled trout in Locust Bayou later in the day.

It’s still warm enough in September to put a jet ski in the water along the Teche or any inboard or outboard and do a lit-tle hydro sliding. Of course, back in the day we used to water-ski and if you could slalom — for you hydro-sliders that is water-skiing on one ski — we’d think we were really something.

September’s also a great month to pull your motor home into Lake End Park, Cypremort Point or Lake Fausse Point State Park and enjoy a little camping Labor Day weekend. What’s more, if you enjoy festivals, why not choose Lake End Park for the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival?

By early September usually the commercial alligator season has been under way for several days. Most of the folks, who hunt and fish alligators, have certain lease arrangements with landowners. However, the state now offers recreational tags for sport hunters on a number of wildlife management areas. Right here in St. Mary Parish you can put in for recreational tags on the Atchafalaya Delta WMA.

If you’re lucky enough to draw out for the three sport tags and have never been alligator fishing before, you’re in for a real treat. And, believe me, if you think an episode of “Swamp People” is exciting, wait till your holding the business end of a 30 or 40 foot line inches away from the pearly whites of even the smallest gator. It’ll get your heart pumping in a hurry and leave you wondering what you got yourself into. Don’t worry, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries offers first timers plenty of instruction, within the parameters of safety.

September is also a great month to lazily motor along canal banks to seek out a few wild muscadines grapes. If you’re lucky enough to have beat the raccoons to them consider yourself lucky. The tart wild grapes are a favorite soft mast enjoyed by both bears and coons.

For years the Mrs. and I would take a break between running alligator lines along a couple canals we frequented and pick till our hearts content, only to realize we were burning daylight; getting back to the business at hand of slaying lizards for market.

Speaking of picking, September is also a great month to pick oyster mushrooms along the same canal banks you searched for musadines. There is nothing like fried bream and oyster mushrooms to make a meal from.

September is also the month we get our first cool fronts and relief from the brutal dog days of July and August. Once we have our first cool fronts we begin to not fear the forecaster’s storm predictions as much. We know that there’s a pretty good chance the stirring currents from a steady flow of northers — and though we don’t wish the worse on our neighbors to the east — will push these tropical systems closer to the Florida panhandle.

With the cooler temperatures is an increased urgency to work on the hunting lease, preparing deer stands or perhaps work on your archery technique. After all, September’s flaws shooting arrows at targets that have set in the shed since last fall are October and November’s harvest. What’s more, if you haven’t been stung by a bee all year, the first time you open the door to your box stand just might be your greatest opportunity; so, go prepared. Take a can of wasp spray with you.

September is the month where the deer peas in the marsh climb up the ladder of your stand. Moreover, you can see trails — as the old timers say — broken through the pea-patches, showing why it’s a marsh whitetail’s favorite browse during the fall, right up there with acorns along some canal bank.

September is the month the days get shorter, but are equal to the hours it’s dark. Fall equinox, typically takes place around the third week of the month. And, if you’re lucky enough to knock off early and get down to the marsh, when the afternoon tide is falling to fish a little trenausse, you might just catch a redfish and marsh bass with the same spinner-bait.

During the opening of one early September teal season along Wax Lake, we were limited on teal and went back to the camp and fished bass in the canal, where the camp was tied up. Lunch was smothered down teal and fried bass fillets.

September is also the month when the fall bird migration peaks and our winter visitors from the north start to seek out your backyard feeders. A variety of warblers, finches and sparrows call Louisiana home for several months, while others leave for the tropics. A birdwatcher can cross off quite a few species on his or her life list during the course of this month.

There’s lots of reasons I love the month of September in the Sportsman’s Paradise. But, I got a feeling I’m not the only one who feels this way.

If you wish to make a comment or have an anecdote, recipe or story you wish to share, you can contact John K. Flores by calling (985) 395-5586 or by e-mail: gowiththeflo@cox.net.

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