Wind, bone-chilling cold and the chance for freezing rain Friday are made for duck hunting, not fishing.
There’s little need for an extensive weather forecast, only to know that we’re looking at 15-25 knot northerly winds coming behind the Arctic cold front that has settled in over south Louisiana with rain returning Sunday, and little relief from lingering winds and cold conditions into next week.
Where the weather demands a closer look is our rivers. The Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers are on hard rises — a 4-foot rise in the Mississippi at Baton Rouge will push the Mighty Mississip to 22.1 feet by Sunday, up from 4.9 feet to 7.6 feet at New Orleans, and from 4.6 to 6.6 at the Atchafalaya’s Bayou Sorrel gauge.
And with prolonged, light rain coming, it’s likely the Florida Parishes rivers will be unable to recover from their near-flood stage readings earlier this week.
If you’re determined to make a trip, remember the wind-chill warnings posted for the next two days, but know, too, that hypothermia can be a major player when temperatures are above freezing, mostly because of the ever-present damp conditions in which we live.
We’ve entered a time of year when paying attention to water temperatures and barometric pressures can save you the expense of a trip. While tackle and electronics are far advanced these days, what hasn’t changed is the freshwater and saltwater species we seek are unaccustomed to dealing with water temperatures in the 40s. And that’s where we’re headed.
It means every lure presentation we make in the next weeks must be slow and low (deep) because the metabolisms of gamefish slow to the point where they are not be able to chase baits, not even live baits.
Low water temperatures also mean fish will look for deep holes because water is more consistently warmer in the depths than on the surface, and aren’t subject to the north winds that blow huge volumes of water from our marshes. Somehow, these species are unable to react to these severe water-level changes (blame that on slower metabolism, too) and must live in the deepest water or face getting stranded in the shallows.
Even during the two or three days between the fronts, sunlight penetration won’t warm the water enough to raise their metabolic rates enough to move from the deep holes.
Consider, too, barometric pressure. Ardent coastal fisherman Tom LeBlanc reported his trip Tuesday produced only four trout from the Sulfur Mine area near Golden Meadow. It was an area that produced trout limits and some redfish throughout late November and December.
With a barometric pressure reading at 30.51 inches, LeBlanc made it clear that the lack of action in what were productive waters was because of that extra-high barometer.