Spillway Opening to Affect Fishing in Pontchartrain

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by Frank Davis

wwltv.com

Posted on May 6, 2011 at 7:16 AM

Updated Friday, May 6 at 6:47 PM

Frank Davis / WWL-TV Fishing Expert

     Because of the unusually high levels of the Mississippi River, it is going to be necessary for  the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to open all 350 bays in the Bonnet Carre Spillway come Monday.  Opening procedures are scheduled to begin right about 8 o'clock as cranes on rails lift the long wooden "pins" out of the bays, allowing muddy river water to "spill" into the plain that leads directly to the western shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain. 
     At this stage of the operation, the structure is estimated to remain open for "full flow" anywhere from two to four weeks.  If accurately calculated by hydrologists, the opening will relieve pressure on the main levees, lower the river stages, and even reduce the current of the river as it rips its way toward the Gulf of Mexico.
     While it is definitely essential that it be done to prevent dangerously extreme flooding, at the same time the action will definitely affect late spring and summertime fishing. . .just when the big trout started showing up the the lake.   To be more specific, as the muddy plumes spread across the 622 square mile lake, they will displace fish, shrimp, and crabs, driving them ahead of the turbid fresh water and further out toward the Sound and the Gulf.
     So here's my suggestion to you--postpone any honeydo's around the house you might have planned for this weekend and go fishing in the lake, particularly at or near Railroad Marker 174 at the Trestle if you're looking for speckled trout and flounders.  The Five Mile Bridge, and  both spans of the Interstate Bridges should also produce some good catches this weekend.   Market shrimp on either a 3/4 ounce jighead or a Carolina rig should be all you need to catch 'em!
     Of course, keep in mind, that by mid-week next week, there won't be much of anything along the western and southwestern quadrant of Pontchartrain except lots of milk-chocolate-colored river water.  As the river flow continues into the lake, however, in days ahead there will be an opportuntity to pick up some freshwater catfish, eels, and gaspergou (freshwater drum), maybe, but trout, reds, flounder, sheepshead, and drum will have headed outward to saltier water.
     Over the weeks, I will make a concerted effort to keep Southeast Louisiana sport fishermen (along with their commercial fishing counterparts) totally appraised of the situation as it develops. Check in with my blog periodically to get the latest. --FD

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