THOUGHTS ON THE EFFECTS OF SPRING FLOODS

It’s late March, the jonquils are blooming and I saw dogwoods beginning to timidly show
the blossoms that will soon decorate the woods with a snowy white.

Our calendars just reminded us of the arrival of spring this past Sunday. Although my azaleas took a bit of a hit with the early March surprise snow event accompanied by temperatures
in the 20s, other flowering plants, such as forsythia, flowering quince and Lady Banks roses are already making a flowery showing around the area.

As I sit this morning at my computer, something else is going on that provides affirmation of the change in the seasons. I’m hoping a lightning bolt doesn’t zap our power and what I am writing so if you’re able to read this, you’ll know we made it through a powerful late March storm. Thunder, lightning and heavy down pours seem to be the ticket this morning letting me know that, yes, spring is here and with it comes spring storms.

I was reminded of two serious weather events that have taken place over the past few decades, spring floods that had an effect, if not directly on me, but did on family members.
In 1991, all we could do was stand by and watch as Lake D’Arbonne gobbled up scores
of lakeside homes, including that of my in-laws. After the rain stopped, I was able to take my
boat and paddle up to their house, look through the window at furniture floating in the five feet of water that swallowed their home. Thankfully, the in-laws had evacuated but their house was beyond repair and had to be rebuilt.

Then in 2016, another family member took a hit when flood waters caused Black/Clear Lake to rage wildly. My sister and her family live on a hill next to the lake and saw flood waters
slowly creep up the hill, stopping within inches of entering their home.

I remember talking to someone knowledgeable about the effect the 2016 flood would have on our fresh water fishery. I visited with Mike Wood, retired head of freshwater fisheries for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and asked him if he thought the high water levels would kill that year’s 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. 

Since a number of area lakes were affected by the floods, we wondered of Wood if he had a favorite lake to fish during times like we’re experiencing.

“Lake D’Arbonne, hands down,” he said. “There are thousands of big old slab crappie
just ready to move shallow to spawn. Another lake that is a good one is Poverty Point; this lake has been producing lots of three pound fish, but it’s a little crowded because the best fishing areas are fairly small.”

Hopefully, the thunder I’m listening to and the pounding rain outside my window won’t
create another 1991 or 2016 event and if it does, worrying about our fishery won’t top the list of concerns. In the back of our minds, however, is the assurance that the bass, crappie and bream will be just fine.

”Sam Dupree points at the high water mark in his yard during the 2016 flood.”

FISHING REPORT

CANEY LAKE – The crappie are starting to move up to spawn and some nice fish have been
caught using ultra-light tackle to cast shiners in and around the lily pads. Bass are starting to
move up as well but best fishing has been when they move back deeper and sinking jerk baits are picking up some fish. The chinquapins are starting to bite a bit but they’re in 10-20 foot water hitting crickets and red wigglers. No report on catfish. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – Fishing is slow. No report this week. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-
8707 for latest information.
OUACHITA RIVER – The river is high and rising and water is cold. No fishing reports this week. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – The bass are in transition with some moving shallow and some still deep
in the channels. Crank baits and soft plastics are best bets. The crappie are also in and out with some moving in and others still holding back. Some have also been caught below the spillway in the bayou. Shiners and jigs are both working. Bream have not started yet but catfish are still biting cold worms fished off the banks. For latest reports, call Anderson’s Sport Center at 368-669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Crappie fishing has been good on shiners and jigs with some still hanging out in deep water out from the dam while some are starting to move into shallow
spawning grounds. Best fishing has been at night fishing shiners around the lighted piers. Bass are starting to move more shallow with best catches made on spinners and plastic lizards in fairly shallow water. A few stripers have been caught in deep water on shad imitations. No report on catfish or bream. For latest information, call Misty at Kel’s Cove at 331-2730 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Catfishing has been good on cold worms. Crappie fishing has
improved this week around the boat slips with a couple near 3 pounds reported. No report on bass or bream. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE ST. JOHN – The water is back to pool stage and bass are good on jigs and soft plastics.
Crappie fishing is fair while catfishing is good. For information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-
3821.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is high and over the roads with a slow fall expected. Still too
high for fishing. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.


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