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Voices from the Waterfront
Meet Ryan Lambert, Louisiana Sport Fisherman Rebuilding Business after Gulf Oil Spill
April 9, 2012
Ryan Lambert has increased guided duck hunting as part of rebuilding his business after the oil spill. (NOAA/Monica Allen)
Fishing guide Johnny Hodge and Ryan Lambert hold up redfish caught on a fishing trip in Louisiana. (NOAA/Monica Allen)
Meet Ryan Lambert who runs Cajun Fishing Adventures, a 31-year old recreational fishing and hunting business that includes lodges and guided fishing and hunting trips in Louisiana. We caught up with Lambert recently at his lodge in Buras, Louisiana, a tiny coastal community in the Mississippi River delta.
How did you get started in the recreational fishing and hunting business?
I used to have a sporting goods store and people were always coming in looking for guides. But down here there were no guides. After telling enough of them no, I said I’ll take you, and it has just kept growing since then. Today, I have 15 fishing guides, six duck guides, with 23 families working out of this lodge.
How has your business been affected by the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill of 2010?
This area of Louisiana hasn’t had it easy. This is where Katrina hit. There was 24 feet of water in my lodge, and I had to completely redo everything. But that wasn’t near as bad as the oil spill. I could rebuild my own entity with the hurricane, and we had an abundance of fish. With the oil spill, I may have my building, but its effects are so vast. The fish are different now. On the west side of this peninsula, from Venice to Grande Isle, there’s very few if any speckled trout and that was 90 percent of our fishing business. We’re continuing to catch speckled trout on the east side of the Mississippi River.
What’s been your approach to rebuilding your business after the spill?
I ended up 94-percent down for the year 2010, my whole business was decimated. Now, my business depends more on catching redfish and hunting ducks. I’ve started pushing duck season harder. We had a good duck season this year, but it’s a short season of only three months.
Have you been involved in advocating for coastal restoration?
My issue is to try to get restoration funds to the states damaged by the BP oil spill to help fix coastal erosion. If we don’t fix coastal erosion, Louisiana won’t be here in 30 years. We need to return the Mississippi River’s flow to our marshes, which will return those life-sustaining nutrients—freshwater and sediment. All of south Louisiana is a vital culture that’s unique to the world—our food, our culture and the fact that people still live off the land. Our food is catching on all over the world. It’s an incredible melting pot of different cultures that are here. But it will all disappear if we don’t bring back the marshes.
What’s your favorite fish to eat or catch?
I love the taste of cobia, speckled trout and fresh swordfish. My favorites to catch are big trout and fresh water crappie and brim.
This interview is part of “Voices from the Waterfront,” an ongoing series of interviews with men and women whose lives and livelihoods depend on sustainable fisheries.