Hancock County oyster reef reopens

Hancock County oyster reef reopens
By sunrise about seven boats had already launched in Bay St. Louis for the St. Stanislaus reef. (Image Source: WLOX News)
By sunrise about seven boats had already launched in Bay St. Louis for the St. Stanislaus reef. (Image Source: WLOX News)
The St. Stainlaus reef will remain open until further notice. (Image Source: WLOX News)
The St. Stainlaus reef will remain open until further notice. (Image Source: WLOX News)

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - With just two days left in 2016, local oystermen have a final chance to tong for oysters.

The St. Stanislaus reef in Bay St. Louis opened on Friday, and several oystermen were there at sunrise to get their share after a rough year.

"It's been kind of hit and miss lately," said Christopher Hayes, an oyster fisherman from Carriere, Miss.

Hayes woke up bright and early to make the drive to Bay St. Louis.

"Ironically, we had just gotten the motor tuned up. Just kind of on the fly called the DMR hotline to find out if they were open, and we said alright great we're going to go," said Hayes.

Department of Marine Resources set the sack limit at 15, but it's a little more than Hayes felt was possible.

"This particular reef is a little on the thin side. It's not like it was in the past when we would go out there to Pass Christian in the good times and get 15 no problem," added Hayes. "But. I'm not holding up too much hope."

Hayes has been tonging for oysters since 2004. While he admits it's been a tough year, it's not the worst he's seen.

"It's been a little bit rough. We've got a crabbing business to go ahead and make up the difference, but it definitely makes for a challenge," said Hayes.

Hayes doesn't go at it alone. It's a family affair. His 9-year-old son, Christopher, makes a good deckhand.

"He's going to go ahead and cull the oysters and check them for size and put them up in the sack, and if there's any dead ones he'll toss them over. All the small ones," said Hayes.

Even if Friday's harvest isn't as good as he hopes, the quality time spent with Christopher is worth it.

"We'll get what we get. The good Lord's gonna give us what he wants," said Hayes.

At 12:01 a.m., Sunday, Mississippi territorial waters will close to shrimping. The St. Stanislaus reef will remain open until further notice.

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