Freeze should have killed Giant Salvinia – but did it?

Down here in our part of the world, we have things growing and living among us that, quite frankly, we hate. Fire ants? What purpose do they serve other than to allow us to create new dance steps when we find our ankles wrapped up with these nasty biting critters? Kudzu? Who needs it? Entire hillsides and margins of rural roads are wrapped with this obnoxious plant that if you find yourself standing in a patch for over five minutes, it will start to climb your ankles. Pine pollen? We are right now seeing our shiny blue, red or maroon vehicles changing to a dusty yellow color right before us as our eyes water and sneezes begin.

These things are all bad and we would be better off is we didn’t have to deal with them but there is another that for the past decade or so has threatened to put an end to something most of us love, and that’s getting out on the water to fish, ski and swim. Giant Salvinia has a strangle hold on most of the lakes in the northern half of our state and with our winters that mostly lean to the moderate temperature side not being capable of killing the plant that dies when faced with freezing temperatures, it looks like we’re stuck with it. But wait. In mid-February we had snow, ice and temperatures as low as single digits so is there hope that the dastardly plant is finally gone? Mike Wood is a retired fisheries biologist and when I posed this question to him, here was his answer; “yes and no”.

“The cold weather was a blessing for us and it killed Salvinia. Unfortunately, however, there will always be some of the plant, a sprig or two, that found shelter in a hollow log or underneath a blanket of fallen leaves. This is all it takes for the fast growing plant to begin reproducing itself again,” Wood said.

According to the biologist, while the plant is in evidence in south Louisiana below Alexandria, it is being somewhat controlled by a bug that feeds on Salvinia.

“The Salvinia weevil is helping control the plant down south but, like the host plant, it is unable to tolerate cold temperatures and the result is that when weevils are introduced to north Louisiana lakes, it does the job for awhile until we get sub-freezing temperatures and then they die,” Wood continued.

The lakes that are hardest hit by the Salvinia invasion are some of our older lakes that are full of standing cypress and tupelo gum trees.

“In these lakes, such as Bistineau, Black Lake and Caddo, there is little wind flow and wave action so the plant just sits there and reproduces itself. Also” Wood added, “lake draw-downs and spraying is not nearly as effective as in lakes with more open water.
“Toledo Bend has had Salvinia since 2006 but so much of the lake is open water where most of the infestation is in some of the arms of the lake,” said Wood.

Boaters and anglers are urged to thoroughly inspect their boat and trailer when leaving a lake because should a future outing be to a different lake, a small sprig of Salvinia left on boat or trailer can start an infestation in the next lake visited. Our pine pollen will be gone in a few weeks but Giant Salvinia? In a manner like fire ants and kudzu, it looks like it’ll be here to stay.

FISHING REPORT – 3-24-21

CANEY LAKE – Bass fishing has been best fairly shallow with trick worms, jigs and spinners picking up a few. No heavy weight bass were reported this week. The chinquapin bite has started with fish moving shallow and hitting worms and crickets. Crappie fishing is good with most of the bigger fish moving shallow while some average sized fish are still being caught beneath the
Highway 4 bridge on shiners and jigs. No report on catfish. For latest information contact Bateaux on Caney Lake at 259-6649, Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Crappie are making their move to the shallows with best fishing around trees on shiners or jigs. Bass are starting to move up while some are still fairly deep. Best baits this week have been spinners, crank baits, spinners and soft plastics. Bream are just now starting to show signs of life as they’re moving to shallow bedding areas and starting to hit worms and
crickets. Catfishing continues to be good off the banks on night crawlers and cold worms. For latest reports, call Anderson’s Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Bream are beginning to show up around shallow spawning areas with some caught on crickets and worms. Catfishing has been fair to good on jugs and trotlines. Crappie fishing has been best at night fishing shiners off the piers and docks with a good manycaught on yo-yos baited with shiners. Also, fishing has been good for crappie below the spillway. Bass are fairly shallow with some caught on Carolina rigs and wacky worms. No report on stripers this week. For latest information, call Tim Loftin at Kel’s Cove at 927-2264.
BUSSEY BRAKE – Cooler stormy weather has slowed fishing a bit. Bass have been fair this week. The bream are showing signs of starting to move to the beds. Crappie are slow to fair this week. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – Crappie are scattered and fair. Bass are fair in the shallows on soft plastics and spinners. Bream are just now starting to hit crickets. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
OUACHITA RIVER – The river is still too high. No fishing report this week. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – The turn to cooler weather has moved the crappie off the banks and slowed the fishing this week. Catfishing has been fair while bass and bream are slow. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE ST. JOHN – Cooler weather and rain have slowed down the crappie bite. Bass have been fair to good early mornings on soft plastics and jigs. Catfishing has slowed this week. For information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is very high and rising. No fishing this week. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.

“Giant Salvinia is a plant that has created real problems for area lakes, especially those with an abundance of standing timber.”

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