If you can believe the reports, and why not take hunters at their words, then the duck season took a dramatic turn for the better during the past week.

It’s clear the turn came on the coldest weather in two years. The rush of frigid Arctic air had folks even 50 miles north of Baton Rouge complaining about ice covering their duck ponds and turning hunting trips into hazardous ventures.

And, yes, there were reports filtering through social media about hunters battling hypothermia.

That’s likely not the case along the coast — although there was a chance of Tuesday night snow from the Central Coast east to places east of Buras along the Mississippi River — because more moderate conditions are predicted for the weekend.

Interesting were the reports of increased numbers of mallards and canvasbacks, and the last of the gray ducks and wigeon, filtering into the rice fields (even those with a layer of ice) and the coastal marshes during the past 11 days.

Even more interesting is how those ducks will react to the warming sun and east-southeast winds coming before another cold front is announced on Monday’s rain.

“With all the ducks I’m seeing, we should be in for a good weekend no matter what the conditions are,” Jimmy Bramlett said after spending the last two frigid mornings in blinds near the Central Coast.

“I’m hearing about big numbers around the (Mississippi and Atchafalaya) rivers, but the north winds have those guys trying to hunt in low-water conditions,” he said. “I can’t wait for the weekend ‘cause it looks like we won’t have ice in the bottom of the boat, and I’m not dressed like an Eskimo to go hunting, and my wife’s not calling me crazy for going hunting.”

In the marshes

Fishermen took advantage of Saturday’s break in the weather to find fish in most coastal marshes. The exception came in areas where the north winds had pushed water from lakes and bays and restricted fishermen to running and fishing in deeper water spots.

Word came from the MRGO of a run on trout, redfish and largemouth bass on a variety of soft-plastic lures — the bass wanted something with a little, but not too much, bulk (like Baby Brush Hogs) — along with jerkbaits and some swimbaits.

Slowly worked soft plastics under a cork did the trick in the Theriot-Dulac area while work dark plastics on the bottom seemed to be the best in the Cocodrie area.

Days of sunshine will help move some trout and redfish from the depths to feed on baitfish moving into the shallows by Saturday morning.

The extreme cold kept nixed reports from the Golden Meadow-Leeville area.

Weekend conditions

  • National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Forecasts: nws.noaa.gov. Find the “Coastal/Great Lakes Forecasts by Zones — Gulf — New Orleans, La.” and a map with 13 different nearshore, offshore and Lake Pontchartrain wind and waves predictions for the next five days.
  • Weather Underground: wunderground.com. Current conditions, a 10-day forecast, and hour-by-hour predicted temperatures, winds, precipitation and barometric pressure.
  • National Weather Service’s River Forecast Center: water.weather.gov for river stages.