OUTDOOR CORNER: Some fishing suffers with high water and muddy conditions, but ecosystem is smiling

Lyle Johnson
Alan Johnson holds what one might catch during high water. Catfish for the frying pan.

Wow, is that enough rain or what? I’m sitting here at the computer wondering if there is any good in all this rain. It’s surely caused some heartache for folks that live in low lying areas with flooding. Closure of some areas to hunting is surely a possibility and the fishing is messed up pretty much as well.

We’ve had over nine inches of rain in our area which is six inches more than we usually have for the month of December. New Orleans has had nearly 22 inches which makes this month the largest rainfall total ever recorded. So what will we do with all this water?

For one thing, it will help keep the salt water in check. It seems like sort of a cool thing to be able to catch speckled trout and redfish in Lake Maurepas, but it’s not good for the eco-system.

The Blind River/Amite River basin is a freshwater estuary and occasional salt water intrusion doesn’t cause much harm. In the last ten years or so, there’s been enough of it to keep a healthy number of specs and reds for several months at a time. Most of this is caused by the erosion and disappearance of our coastline. This kind of rain flushes out the system and that’s a good thing.

This flooding is a lot different from the ones we’ve experienced from tropical systems; aka hurricanes. These systems push tide water in that includes more salt water than we need which raises the water levels in an unhealthy way. It usually stays in the swamp long periods of time and depletes the oxygen causing a fish kill.

This rain along with the turbidity in the water actually adds oxygen to the water making the system a lot healthier. The water levels have crested and will fall rapidly with north winds from cold fronts. It’s sort of like taking a relaxing shower after a hard day at work or a good work out at the gym. The eco-system is smiling.

Another benefit from this seemingly never ending rain is the water table underground increases. This is not usually way up the list of things to worry about in south Louisiana but we’ve experienced drought conditions nearly every summer for the last few years. This may be hard to believe, but we are still nearly two inches below our normal amount of rainfall for the year.

So, some of the inconveniences in the outdoors will effect hunting for a short while. Even if closures of hunting in areas due to high water does not occur, the taking of wild game while trapped on high ground would not be considered a very sporting endeavor.

Because of the high water and muddy conditions of the fresh water around here, bass and bream fishing will suffer for a few weeks. On the other hand this would be a great time to catch a few catfish for the dinner table. The combination of high water and current could make things ideal for this sporting event.

Our whiskered friends feed more by their sense of smell than their sight, so the muddy water does not hinder their ability for eating and the current makes it a little easier to follow their nose in the water.

A couple of adjustments need to be made to enhance our chances. First you need to increase the amount of weight of your sinkers to keep the bait you choose to use in position. Don’t be afraid to use three or four ounces and increasing the size of your line might be a bad idea as well.

Although current is your friend while tight lining for catfish, too much of it might not be desirable Instead of casting out to the middle where the current speed is the highest, try closer to the bank. You can usually see where the current line is in terms of velocity. This is usually where they hang.

Salt water fishing is not affected quite as much where water levels are concerned but the water clarity is a must. Water that is disturbed from wind or rain causing it to be muddy has to be avoided because our salt water friends, especially speckled trout rely more on their sight to fill their bellies. Clear water may be a little harder to find and lure selection becomes more important.

Man, I think I can smell those catfish frying now - better get to it. Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. So until next time have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you.

Brody Trabeau with his first deer taken Nov. 14 in Mississippi hunting with his Pawpaw Barry.