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 our area even weeks after up to two feet 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.
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.
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 this 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.”
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.
Glynn Harris Outdoor column is sponsored by D.C. Pawn in Minden