Monday, February 15, 2021

Louisiana - a winter wonderland!

The coldest outbreak since Christmas week of 1989 has socked Louisiana and Texas with record low temperatures and combinations of snow, ice and freezing rain. Snow pack this morning ranges across western and north Louisiana in varying amounts, with Monroe getting nearly 5 inches! Sleetstorms with thunder and lightning were reported across parts of southeast Louisiana as far south as Houma.

The record cold is expected to continue through the week, with another chance of snow/sleet forecast for Tuesday night and again on Wednesday night through Thursday morning. Low temperatures will hit single digits across northern parishes, with high temperatures slightly below or slightly above freezing.

There are numerous concerns about impacts on marsh fishing. The 1989 arctic plunge resulted in massive fish kills of redfish and speckled trout, along with other inshore species. While some kills are anticipated, it probably won't be nearly as bad. First, the 1989 event took place when water temperatures were still mild and many fish were still in shallow water. Most fish were trapped and unprepared phyisologically for the traumatic change. This event comes late in the season when fish have moved to deeper water and become adjusted to cold water.

Freshwater impacts. While fish kills are extremely rare due to cold weather, there will be a negative impact. Sacalait (crappie) and bass were making their pre-spawn movements as water temperatures were moving into the 60s. As of Sunday afternoon, water temperatures at Cotile Lake were in the 40s up to 10 feet deep! With another week of very cold weather ahead, it could be as late as April in some parishes before we see bass spawning.

Coldwater fisheries. For Louisiana fly anglers who frequent the tailwaters of Oklahoma and Arkansas for trout (rainbows, browns and others), great news. Oklahoma and Arkansas will have seen considerable amounts of snow, along with extremely cold nights and wind chill effects. That means the deepwater reservoirs will supply tailwater streams with cold, highly-oxygenated water well into late summer. Should be a banner year for trout fishing!

Friday, February 12, 2021

Bundick Lake restocked from hurricane kills

One of southwest Louisiana's most popular fly fishing reservoirs, Bundick Lake, was restocked recently with more than 40,000 fish. This effort was to help rejuvenate the fishery following Hurricanes Laura and Delta last Fall. 

The lake took a direct hit from Laura, causing a high volume of organic debris to be blown into the lake. The decomposition of organics, along with high water temperatures, caused dissolved oxygen concentrations to fall below critical levels. Resulting in a massive fish kill.

Among the species stocked are: 1,200 pure-strain Florida largemouth bass, 22,000 bluegill, 8,000 redear sunfish, 10,500 white crappie, and 50 pounds of threadfish shad. The fish were supplied by the LDWF freshwater hatcheries.

The Bundicks watershed has slightly higher alkalinity than most western Louisiana waters. For this reason, it supports slightly higher fish populations and growth rates.

Hatchery Manager Kristi Butler is optimistic. "Based on preliminary sampling results, predator densities and competition for food are low. These factors, combined with the sizes and genetics of the bass we are stocking, will result in a very high success rate".

Bundick has been a popular destination for southwest Louisiana fly anglers seeking chunky redears and large crappie. The lake's countless submerged stumps, and grassy shorelines, sandy bottoms were ideal habitat for both species. Louisiana Outdoors Hall of Fame fly angler Pete Cooper, Jr., spent several years routinely fishing the lower end of the lake for crappie during late winter and early Spring.