Ever see a Redfish House?
How about Speckled Trout, Red Snapper, Sac-a-lait, Bass houses?
OK, we’re talking about restaurants, not homes for wayward fish.
Yet, when you travel across the Deep South, into the Missouri Valley and the lands drained by the Ohio River, chances are you’ve seen one, or many more eateries that serve catfish, and heavily advertise that they do.
There is a wild-caught market for catfish, but it’s a sure bet that most of those “restaurant” catfish are raised on “farms,” (for lack of a better term for raising fish), and catfish are most assuredly enjoyed at home or at camps by recreational anglers far and wide.
Louisiana’s longest national touring pro angler, Home Humphries from Minden, said years ago that corn was grown for three things: “It’s for making cornbread, and my mom made the best cornbread in the world, and for making hush puppies, and for putting on catfish before we put them in hot grease.
“There’s nothing better than a catfish fry because it brings together the best we have to offer,” Humphries said. “We get to catch fish with our family and sometimes our friends, then we get to enjoy a wonderful meal with them. Life doesn’t get much better.”
Except for alligator gar and some sturgeon subspecies, catfish are the biggest fish a freshwater fishermen will encounter. That’s especially true now in south Louisiana.
For the past six weeks, since the Mississippi River hit its usually springtime floodwaters runup into the river’s batture and to the levees, big catfish are showing up — bragging size blue and flathead subspecies, and even some extra-large channel cats.
So when 12-year-old Michael Boyerre was relieved of his classroom work for the 2014-15 school year, and the Mississippi River continued to run high around his uncle’s camp at Buras, it was natural for the young fishermen to gather a friend from Plaquemines Parish, young James Kersey, and head to the river.
And the photo Boyerre’s dad furnished is the third this spring showing giant Mississippi River catfish.
Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn did the same, right? Or at least Samuel Langhorne Clemens wrote that they did along the Mississippi River near Hannibel, Missouri.
Fishing in the Mississippi River comes with a warning. The mighty river is pushing lots of water these days, more than any river in North America, and there are eddies and cuts and holes even in the shallows along the levees that can swallow the unwary. Be careful and make it a point not to venture into the water, not to retrieve a fish, or anything else that might invite wading into the swirling water.
So how long will this run on catfish continue?
Federal river watchers post a 28-day forecast for the Mississippi every Wednesday afternooon. You can check the forecast on website: srh.noaa.gov/lmrfc/?n=ms_extended_forecast.
Last week, the forecast put the river at an even 30 feet on the Baton Rouge gauge with a rise to 32 feet Friday, and a steady fall to a still-high 23 feet by June 23.
For New Orleans, and this is important for freshwater and saltwater anglers, Wednesday’s reading was 11.4 feet with a rise to 12.3 feet June 8, then a fall to 9.4 feet June 23.
Most saltwater guys and some of the folks who like to fish for bass in the river’s delta like the river level at 5 feet.
For the Atchafalaya River, it appears water will remain at the 5-foot level in Morgan City for at least the next two weeks, and the Atchafalaya Basin likely will remain high from all the rain in Oklahoma and northern Texas that will pour into the Red River Basin and into the Atchafalaya River near the Old River Control Structure.
More high water
The recent rise in the Mississippi River brought a flood warning for the Red River Landing area. It comes with Saturday’s warning covering “significant flooding” possibilities in the Red River from Shreveport and miles south into Pool 3.
And recent rains and the resulting backwater flooding forced Wildlife and Fisheries to close Sandy Bayou Road and Muddy Bayou Road at the Deville Crossing on the Dewey Wills Wildlife Management Area 20 miles northeast of Alexandria.