This has been a wet spring for sure. Just this week, we’re hearing of serious flooding plaguing our friends in Lake Charles, an area that needs more disasters like I need a toothache. As news of the flood waters flash across our television screens, I am reminded of a time when our part of the world experienced serious flooding.
The flood of 2016 will, to coin a phrase from a former President Franklin Roosevelt, “live in infamy”. Admittedly, the global impact of the flood is not the same as what happened at Pearl Harbor but if flood waters entered your home and you had to stand by helplessly and watch your possessions and your memories wash away, the devastation couldn’t be more real to you.
We had to watch the flood of 1991 destroy my in-laws home on Lake D’Arbonne. It was sickening to paddle up to the house, look through the windows and see furniture floating in five feet of water. Several days earlier, we had no idea the water would get as high as it did. Before it began creeping under the doors, I paddled around their front yard with a bucket of little crawfish I had seined from a ditch and caught some of the biggest chinquapins I have ever caught pulling them from around the roots of mother-in-law’s azaleas, which were in full bloom. It was eerie.
There have been other times when heavy rains swelled the water levels in ponds to the point of overflow and I have found the bass on the new ground aggressive and eager to smack the daylights out of my spinner bait. With flood waters still affecting so much of the state after a foot or more of rain lashed parts of Louisiana, it will be awhile before things return to any semblance of normalcy for hundreds of unfortunate folks who have stood by helplessly and watched flood waters take over homes and businesses.
Although this question pales in importance compared to personal losses from the flood, I wondered what effect all the water would have on this spring’s spawn that was just beginning to kick in before the flood. As waters around here remained high during the 2016 flood, I visited with Mike Wood, retired head of freshwater fisheries for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and asked him what effect the high water levels would have on the annual spawn.
“The main effect of all this extra water will likely be a positive one,” Wood said.
“Fish are used to water; that’s where they live. The high water is not nearly as big a problem for fish as it is for fishermen. It’s tragic that so many people have had their homes and camps inundated by flood waters but a springtime flood can be a bonanza to the fishery,” he added.
“Nobody wants fish to be swimming around on their flooded patio but where there is gravel and hard ground and the water stays up for a week or so, we could conceivably have what we call a ‘super spawn’. If so, you’ll see the positive effects a couple of years down the road.”
Wood said that not only does high water sometimes trigger an impressive spawn, water that is covering new ground flushes out insects – bugs, worms, spiders et al – that are inaccessible to fish under normal circumstances.
“The fish take advantage of this new food source and can really fatten up during times of
high water,” Wood continued.
I hope and pray that our area will miss the brunt of the excessive rainfall while at the same time feeling concern for folks in the southern part of Louisiana facing another weather-related disaster. It’s a tragedy if your home or camp is flooded. However, being able to catch fish in your flooded yard will hopefully provide just a bit of balm to your pain.
AREA FISHING REPORT –
CANEY LAKE – Bass fishing has been fair to good with the drop-shot rig working best. Crappie are around the deeper tops and hitting jigs and shiners fished 12 feet deep in 15-25 foot water. Bream are on the beds and hitting crickets and worms. Catfishing has been good using noodles baited with a variety of baits with a 30 pound op reported. For information contact Bateaux’s 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.
OUACHITA RIVER – The river is high but crappie have been fair in the bayou. No report on other species. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Crappie fishing has been fair on the flats on shiners and jigs fished 14 feet deep in 18-25 foot water. Bass have been fair fishing the deeper channel holes with deep diving crank baits, soft plastics and jigs. Bream fishing is good on 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 on the beds and fishing has been good on crickets and worms. Bass fishing has been fair to good with best results on soft plastics fished around the piers and grass and along the edges of the drop-offs in the channel. Stripers have been fair while some nice sized crappie have been caught fishing 7-10 feet deep as well as below the spillway on jigs and shiners. Lots of channel catfish are being caught on cold worms. Kel’s Cove has been sold to a group of investors from Ruston. For latest information, call Tim Loftin at Kel’s Cove at 927-2264.
BUSSEY BRAKE – Bass fishing has been fair with with some to 6 pounds caught fishing soft plastics, spinners and jigs around the trees and brush. Bream are on the beds and biting crickets and worms. No report on crappie or catfish. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – Bream fishing is good around the tupelo gums on crickets and worms. Bass are around the grass and pads and are hitting plastic frogs and lizards. Crappie are scattered and slow. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Bass and crappie are slow to fair. Catfish and bream fishing have both been good this week. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE ST. JOHN – No report. For information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is high but slowly falling. No fishing this week. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.