During the late winter, recreational fishermen look at the Atchafalaya Basin for one thing, the same thing commercial fishermen do — water levels.
That’s where the similarity ends: The commercial guys want water on the rise — a big rise — while the guys who chase bass and sac-a-lait want the Atchafalaya River at levels that keep water between the banks so anglers can access their favorite fishing spots.
Even a slight rise, like the one last week, tends to throw bass and sac-a-lait off feeding patterns and move the fish daily, if not more than once a day.
Still, for this time of year, the Atchafalaya isn’t all that high, and that’s a concern for the commercial fishermen and for the tens of thousands of folks who can’t wait to give the mudbugs a turn on their tables.
In short, with the Atchafalaya River cresting at 4.1 feet Thursday at Morgan City, and a fall to the 3.3-foot level by Tuesday, that’s just not enough water to push crawfish from their muddy holes, allowing them to grow and provide a commercial crop.
And there's not a rise in sight, not in the Atchafalaya, nor the Mississippi River. The Big Muddy sends about 30 percent of its flow down in the Atchafalaya and it is predicted to fall more than three feet at New Orleans by early March.
Ah, but for the recreationals, the fall in the major rivers could make it prime sac-a-lait time in the next week in the Atchafalaya and top-drawer bass fishing in the Venice area.
Just a note that the new moon comes Feb. 26 and the next full moon is March 12.
In Big Lake
It’s about this time trout hunters begin looking for the giant yellowmouths in Calcasieu Lake, and come Monday, these anglers will have the public oyster area open to them, too.
Wildlife and Fisheries announced a closure of Calcasieu Lake Public Oyster Area (in Cameron Parish) for one half-hour after sunset Monday.
Sunday’s 80-degree temperatures will give way to rain and a cold front moving into south Louisiana on Tuesday and Wednesday with an overnight forecast of temps in the mid-40s before a return to the 70s Friday.
A note for freshwater, brackish and saltwater anglers: If you use barometric pressure changes to indicate success, then you can find daily pressure predictions for most, if not all, south Louisiana areas on the Weather Underground website. You have to click on the “full forecast” to get a 10-day outlook, then click on the individual day to get pressure predictions.