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The Daily Review/John Flores
Bill Lake shows a couple of good chinquapins caught this past week.

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Author John Flores' wife, Christine Flores, holds up a huge catch of bream.

John Flores: Social distancing and the Louisiana angler

Social distancing is something fishermen have been doing since the invention of the hook. Don’t believe me? Why don’t anglers reveal their honey holes?
I’ve come around the bend of a bayou on more than one occasion and watched lines get reeled in as fast as the reel could spin, where the guys fishing didn’t want you to see what they were catching.
It’s much the same with hunters, whether on private land or public.
You never quite get the exact location where a good buck was harvested.
Unfortunately, the term “social distancing” means something else altogether.
It literally means not gathering in large groups and putting a particular distance between you and another person. At least six feet worth.
With government guidelines recommending businesses and schools to close along with sporting events being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor-minded people, particularly fishermen and women have taken social distancing not quite figuratively.
Instead, by the number of Facebook posts I’ve been seeing, the fishing has been outstanding during the crisis, as people “distance” themselves trying make use of their mandated time away from coworkers and classmates.
Chris LeCoq, a resident of Denham Springs and owner/operator of Full Frame Media Productions, during the spring is a camera operator for the SEC Network.
He also is the producer and director at Bayou Wild TV.
Concerning putting time on the water during this separation phase of the crisis, LeCoq said, “For me it has created more opportunity to take my son fishing. If it was a ‘normal’ spring, I would be working at LSU sporting events several afternoons each week and nearly every weekend.
"But since events have been canceled and kids aren’t in school, I’ve got the chance to take the kids fishing several times in the past two weeks.”
Last year that opportunity was maybe only once or twice all spring,” LeCoq continued.
“We also have used fishing as an opportunity to let the cousins interact with each other while practicing ‘social distancing.’”
Bastrop resident Billy Limerick has a camp on Horseshoe Lake near Mer Rouge that he has been fishing since the 50s he says. According to Limerick, social distancing has produced some large crowds.
Limerick said, “I’ve been out by myself bream fishing several times. ‘LOTS,’ of boats are out in northeast Louisiana.”
Which brings up a question.
Have some decisions compounded the problem of social distancing?
Retired UL-Monroe history professor and avid outdoor writer Terry Jones says it’s more crowded in the northeast, because so many people are not working.
“In its infinite wisdom,” Jones said, “the Jackson Parish Police Jury closed all of the public ramps on Caney Lake, leaving just one privately owned ramp open. Result is, of course, everybody congregates at the private launch. It would be much safer if there were several ramps to spread people out.”
Apparently, the Jackson Parish Police Jury came to their senses, realizing it was a mistake closing all of boat launches. Jones later reported the Caney Lake boat launches would be re-opened and usage would be free of charge for the time being. Moreover, social distancing would be required and enforced at all times in the area.
Jones noted the Sheriff’s Office will have signs posted at each public launch warning not to gather or loiter in those areas.
While positive cases of the coronavirus increase and people recreational fish to pass the time, some tournament bass anglers still have been competing, which isn’t such a good idea.
Patterson resident and Bullet Bass Club President Gerald Foulcard said, “We canceled all of our club tournaments until further notice. It’s just too dangerous to gather in groups.
"We are even considering canceling for the year unfortunately. Some clubs will still have tournaments, but I think it is a huge mistake.
"It’s safety first. There’s always next year.”
Foulcard, who is a supervisor for CLECO, has found a lot of things around his house to keep busy on the weekends now that he isn’t competing.
He’s also one of the fortunate ones to be working during the pandemic outbreak.
“We’re still working at CLECO – gotta keep the lights on,” Foulcard said laughing. “We’re just keeping our distance away from each other as best we can and washing up a lot with hand sanitizer and spraying Lysol in our trucks frequently. I may go fishing this weekend, but I’m not sure yet.”
The thing about the month of April is it’s usually one of the best months to start bream fishing.
Spring came early this year and reports of good catches of blue gills and red-eared sunfish abound.
Bill Lake, owner/operator of Bayou Guide Service Fish and Charters in Houma said they are catching plenty of bream right now.
Lake said, “We’re catching blue gills, goggle eyes, and chinquapins. All of the canals off the Intracoastal Canal are loaded up with perch. The Bluebird Canal, 70-Mile, Bay Wallace, and Turtle Bayou Pipeline Canal.
"We’re using tube jigs under a cork. No live worms. Wherever you find roseau patches along the bank that grow down to the water, that’s where they are.”
Sadly, on the business side of things, Lake along with other charter boat captains, are hurting.
All of Lake’s 46 scheduled trips for April and May have been canceled. And, during the month of March he’s lost 17 trips with clients.
All of the boat launches in St. Mary Parish currently remain open and anglers can come and go as they please, while trying to comply with social distancing guidelines.
The thing is to be smart and use every precaution and recommended instruction to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Just because we have certain liberties and freedoms, it’s important to understand other people do too.

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