Have you joined the river watchers?

You should. At 15.4 feet on the New Orleans gauge and nearing Monday’s 38.9-foot crest on the Baton Rouge gauge (BR’s flood stage is 35 feet), the Mississippi River is extra high for this time of year.

The forecast is a 15.5-foot crest Wednesday at New Orleans — let’s hope the Saints can ride this crest, too — and a fall to below the 14-foot mark Jan. 28, the same day the river is predicted to fall to near 31 feet Jan. 28.

Barring major rainfall, projections predict a fall to near 27 feet at Baton Rouge and near 11 feet at N.O. by mid-February.

And there’s lots of water in the Atchafalaya, Pearl and Red rivers, too.

This bears watching, with hopes of lots of crawfish for the spring, but prayers for limited damage to the late spring shrimp season.

The combination of rain and high rivers bodes ill for the spring brown shrimp season. Rain and river discharge limit the growing area for brownies moving into the estuaries — these shrimp need 10 parts-per-thousand saltwater to grow — and the constant rain keeps water temperatures low, which retards shrimp growth, too.

And fishermen know when there’s a not-so-good brown shrimp season, it’s more difficult to find trout and redfish on those first good springtime fishing weekend.

There are other problems. High rivers have forced hunting season changes and road closures on some very popular wildlife management areas:

  • Deer hunting is closed in parts of Deer Area 5 located in Iberville, St. Martin, St. Mary and Iberia parishes between the East and West Atchafalaya Basin Protection levees and south of Alligator Bayou and Bayou Sorrel, and in the Attakapas WMA;
  • The Catahoula Parish Police Jury closed the Duty Ferry Parish Road which forced the closing Pipeline Road and Rock Lake Road in Boeuf WMA southeast of Columbia. Access by boat is allowed.
  • Bayou Natchitoches Road past the concrete bridge crossing Bayou Natchitoches is closed on the north and south sides of the bayou in Grassy Lake WMA in Avoyelles Parish. Smith Bay and Cas-cas road remain closed.
  • The Richard Yancey WMA is in Concodria and near the convergance of the Mississippi and Red rivers is flooded and Lac a Sostein, Ross, Hogpen, Catfish Bayou, Blount, Dobbs Bay, Union Point, Lincecum, Blackhawk roads and Blackhawk Boat Launch are closed along with 12 ATV trails.

Mo trout

A follow-up to Thursday’s “Where are the Trout?” and from Tuesday through Friday, they’re where they were supposed to be — deep water.

And the most successful reports came from the Intracoastal Waterway east of the MRGO and by dragging jig-headed soft plastics down ledges in water down to 20 feet.

The twist in those reports was that anglers “swimming” the lures didn’t catch as many trout as the bottom draggers, but the trout were larger than near-the-bottom dwelling trout.

Go to the physical property of water to know why — water (guess those 55-year-old books meant “pure” water) is heaviest at four degrees Centigrade, and because small trout, like small children, want to be as comfortable as possible, they find comfort in the depths. Larger fish can live in more challenging surroundings.

Mo trailers

And from Thursday’s boat trailer story, there are two published guides for helping understand the relationship between towing vehicles, hitches and trailers.

“Your guide to Towing Boats” was printed by Trailer Boats Magazine (and sponsored by Dodge, OMC, Reese hitches and EZ Loader Trailers). For questions, email: tbmeditors@aol.com.

The second “Guide to Towing” came from Field&Stream and Outdoor Life (printed by Ford) and includes shopping tips for tow vehicles and points to finding the right trailer. You can download get copies from websites: fieldandstream.com/ford or outdoorlife.com/ford.