Just when it was time to write about Toledo Bend, the place Bassmaster Magazine named the top bass lake in the country, something at or more than a foot-and-a-half of rain inundated northwest Louisiana last week.
There’s almost no way to predict a date when this lake we share with Texas will get right for fishing again. Maybe a month, maybe longer.
Amid torrential rains, water rescues and reduced access, it was no wonder B.A.S.S. postponed the high school qualifier this weekend on The Bend.
And when talking about access, maybe it’s time all of us consider putting off fishing trips for a couple of weeks. Every corner of our state has been touched by this deluge. Every water body is swollen beyond banks, and there’s no reason, short of dire emergency, to put our vehicles in the way of folks battling water.
And when talking about access — and when our brothers and sisters get through this latest flood — isn’t it time for our elected state officials to take on the issue of a continuing trend to block access to what, for decades, has been open fishing waters across our state.
It’s become a pattern for landowners to post signs at the entrance to canals and marshes, and now install gates, to deny boat access across south Louisiana.
It’s such a big problem that concerned anglers formed the Louisiana Sportsman’s Coalition to battle this problem.
Marshes and canals in the Penchant area in Terrebonne Parish were the first targets in this growing wave to deny fishing access. During the past year, blocking canals has spread into the Verret Basin and beyond.
The biggest concern is where will it stop?
Somehow our state officials, including our attorney general’s office, needs enforce state ownership of water bottoms, which includes the water over that water bottom. And someone in state government needs to understand what the “ebb and flow of the tide” has to do with private lands.
Denying access can take many forms: Aren’t we battling federal fisheries managers about access to federal waters? There’s not much difference here. While battling Louisiana’s budgetary woes, our Legislature needs to take on this access issue before it becomes a major battle, too.