For most south Louisiana residents, Hurricane Barry was like the neighborhood dog who goes bananas, snarling and baring his teeth, as long as you’re on one side of the fence and he’s on the other. Open the gate, however, and he runs off like Alvin Kamara through a hole in the defensive front.
Driven by round-the-clock hype from click-starved national media, Barry’s blistering bark was cacophonous, but his bite was mostly gums. That’s particularly true in St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, where waters rose Friday but began retreating Saturday before Barry had even moved ashore.
Down in Delacroix, charter skipper Jack Payne said he packed up everything he could and moved it out in preparation for Barry, but it proved to be wasted effort.
“The water came over the road in about 15 spots closer to Reggio, but in Delacroix, no water came up the back or over the highway,” he said. “We got lucky, but better safe than sorry.”
He said his Sweetwater’s bait shed stayed dry, and the only water in the marina’s parking lot was caused by rain showers.
“We’re up and running again today,” he said Monday. “We just don’t have any live shrimp yet, but we’ll have it this afternoon. We’ll be back in full operation by (Tuesday).”
Though the storm surge had covered the marina’s docks Friday, the water had retreated to the level of a normal high tide by Monday, Payne said, who speculated that, in the short term, Delacroix regulars may notice a difference in the fishing.
“I can’t say that the trout fishing is going to be better because there’s no salinity out in Black Bay to get pushed in,” he said. “But the redfish have been so thick here; that should only get better.
“The big congregations (of redfish) may have gotten pushed around, but they should be easy to locate again. There’s no shortage of them, that’s for sure.”
The swiftness of the currents driven by Barry may also have altered the vegetation throughout the region, Payne said.
“It’s going to break up some of the heavy grass in some areas,” he said. “It will definitely displace some grass, but after a couple days, it will look like it did before the storm.”
To the northwest a few dozen miles, Lake Catherine Island Marina also survived Barry unscathed, although they dealt with more water than Payne did, owner David Stewart said.
“It got up about a foot and a half in the parking lot — at the very deepest,” he said. “But we didn’t get any water in the bait shed, so we were glad to see that.”
Stewart said the high water pushed in some trash, as well as a couple of baby alligators, but he got it all cleaned up Monday and was back in business.
“We had really prepared,” he said. “We moved fuel tanks out and everything, but we didn’t have any problems here. (Barry) went around us, thank goodness.”
Down the road in Plaquemines Parish, Mitch Jurisich said Hurricane Barry was a dud — not that he’s complaining. His Delta Marina in Empire got through the storm with only minimal damage.
“Really, we fared great,” he said. “We lost a couple pieces of siding off some of our cabins, but that’s to be expected.
“It’s one of the times we’re fortunate to be located inside a floodgate system. That’s when it pays off. It’s those other times, during the high tides, when they close the locks that hurt us a little bit. But we barely had any rainfall down here and no storm surge that affected us in any way.”
Delta reopened for business Monday, and the only slight issue that day was getting down to the marina.
“North of here, near Myrtle Grove, where the water traditionally comes over, they’re still having some issues with water over the road, but you can still access in and out,” Jurisich said. “They’re convoying traffic on the northbound lanes, but even that should be over with shortly.”
By this weekend, the highway should be fully clear, and Jurisich expects a post-Barry boon.
“After every storm, it seems like the fishing really gets great,” he said. “If we can get some good weather this weekend, I’m really hopeful that people will come down. I think they’ll be in for a real treat.”
Biologists are unsure exactly why fishing seems to improve after tropical events, but Jurisich hypothesizes that the high water flushes bait from backwater marshes, causing feeding frenzies among the fish.