Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine VOL 41, No. 1 - Page 11

Gulf Coast Closeup by Pete Cooper, Jr. ROCKEFELLER Wildlife Refuge H aving become permanently displaced from my long-time home in the lower Mississippi River Delta and all the excellent saltwater fishing that almost completely surrounded it, I soon found that similar opportunities near my new home in lower Acadiana were virtually non-existent! For a few years, two or three new found buddies treated me to an occasional decent trip, but it was my first cold weather foray into the canals of the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge that produced action that was comparable to what I had experienced “down the river”. Since then, those canals have given up a very satisfying amount of cool weather action, both with flies and conventional gear, and with both reds and flounder. And besides having taken a lot of quality fish, friends and I have been treated to some bona fide trophies of both species – brawny bulls and saddle blankets alike! The Refuge is an interesting place with an interesting history. Back in 1913, Edward A. McIlhenny of Avery Island, LA and Tobasco Sauce infamy, bought 86,000 acres of coastal southwest Louisiana marshland, which he sold a year later to the Rockefeller Foundation for the protection of migratory birds. Five years later, the land was donated to the state and in 1920 became the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge. It extends roughly from the seashore south of Grand Cheniere in Cameron Parish, some 26 miles to the east, all of which lies south of LA 82. Since then, it has lost roughly 10,000 acres due to coastal erosion. Because of controlled trapping of furbearers like muskrats, and extensive research and repopulation of American alligators, as well as revenues gained from a small but rather prolific and remarkably compatible oil and gas production operation on the property, the Refuge has remained entirely self-supportive. Although, originally one of the Foundation’s stipulations was to strictly conserve wetlands habitat for migratory waterfowl, over time public access was permitted to allow recreational fishing, including tightly regulated crabbing and shrimping, from offi-cial sunrise to sunset. Boating access into the Refuge is limited but is gained via ramps on the East End Road and the nearby Joseph Harbor parking area at the Hillcorp Petroleum facilities alongside LA 82. Vehicles can access the Refuge down the Price Lake Road, just west of the Refuge’s Headquarters complex. This area lies a little more than an hour ’s drive from Kaplan – somewhat further down LA 27 through Creole, southeast from Lake Charles – and is remote, so come prepared! And don’t mess with the ‘gators! Incidentally, on that note I must declare that some of those you might see are likely to be descendants of some that my daughter hatched during her several stints of working for the Refuge! Who would have ever thought. Most of the Refuge is comprised of marshland made up of a wide variety of vegetation existing in environments ranging from fresh to highly saline. Within it all are areas of both “broken marsh” and large ponds and lakes. While ѡ͔䁱ٕɽͥѼͭ݅ѕȁͭ́ݡͥе͠ȁɕ̰)Ёѡ͔݅ѕ́ɔ͕Ѽ)䁙ɴ̸%ѥՍ)ѡI՝̃qϊtɥݥѕȸ)Q͔ɕ́ɔɱ䁵ɭͼ)иѡqչɥ͔ѽչ͕ӊtѥձѥ=ѡѡȁ)ͽѡ́她)ͥѡݕѕɸɕ́ɔ啅+aɽչ)5䁕ɥ́ɔٔ)хɽյѼɥQɔɔ)ɕͽ́ȁѡаѡѡ)ЁѡЁ$͕ٔ)ՅЁ́͡ȁɕ́)չȁɥѡ݅ɴѡ̰ѡ)ɔȁѡ́ѡݕ(( ѥՕܸ)ѡȀ0͡ѹȁɕIݥѠɕ́ɽѡI՝ɕéձ݅̀NJt՝Ё)Aѽ́䁅ѡȸ)ɉЁѡI՝éݕѥ̸))9UId IUId5I ȀĀ܀((0