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Outdoor Corner: Fishing after the storms

Lyle Johnson

Our area of the state was very fortunate with the two hurricane events we just experienced. The first one just fizzled out. Other than a little rain and some high water, our state and our area made out pretty doggone good.

A few days later, our state wasn’t so fortunate. Our friends and neighbors to the west, central and north weren’t so fortunate as they experienced the wrath of Hurricane Laura. The devastation is horrible, and they will need our help for some time to come.

These grandkids got treated to a little gator hunt in the Maurepas swamp area with Pawpaw Robbie. They each got a gator for themselves. Left to Right: Paw Paw Robbie Savoy Sr, Cameron Deane, Aubree Savoy, Bryson Delaune and Ethan Delaune.

I’m very proud of the generosity from the folks in our area that is taking place in this great time of need. Our need from 2016 is still fresh in the memories of those affected, and the response to help them. They will need it for a long time to come. There are plenty of ways to join in the assistance efforts. And if you’re a praying person, those are needed as well.

The water reached flood stage in the Amite and Diversion canal from the wind at French Settlement and down river. The rain and wind was minimal for Laura. so it seems like we made it without a fish kill of any size. I’ve heard of some sightings of small kills but I haven’t seen any dead fish personally. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is investigating a sizable fish kill in the Lake Charles area.

As we seemingly escaped any fish kill to amount to anything, Goosie and I decided to head out on our waterways to see if we could catch a few bass and shoot some film for an upcoming episode of Ascension Outdoors TV.

Our troop of Coast Guard Operation doing safety checks on the Diversion Canal; much needed.

Summertime is usually a good time to target bass in Blind River near Lake Maurepas. So that was our planned location as we traveled down the Diversion canal heading to our destination. We witnessed a beautiful sunrise while being treated to a display of birds that included plenty of egrets, wood ducks, teal, a few ospreys and a pair of roseate spoonbills.

We decided to test out the waters before we got to the lake and fished one of my favorite sloughs. As it was turning daylight, we noticed that the water was black, and after a storm, that is not a great sign. The tide was falling perfect but after about 10 minutes without a bite I said, “This is not a good sign.”

We continued our journey with the next stop out in the lake. The water was still black, which is not my favorite color to fish in. It was not nasty looking and there was no musty smell and looked pretty clean. There was lots of fish action on the surface so we held out some hope. But after fishing for a couple of hours and some spots in Blind River, we had no fish despite our best efforts.

So we decided to head back to try some “brown” water with a little stain. The water looked really good in the Diversion canal on our ride out so that was our next destination. The tide was still falling so that determined our starting to figure out a pattern that might produce a few summertime bass.

The Diversion Canal was dug in the early 50’s to alleviate some of the flood waters in the Amite River so it wasn’t designed for fishing and that makes it a little different than our natural rivers and bayous we have.

It’s very shallow from the bank’s edge for about 15 to 20 feet, which makes the layout very conducive to the growth of lily pads commonly called water lilies. The lilies offer several reasons for being a good spot to catch fish, especially bass.

The first is cover. There are plenty of places for small baitfish to hide from predators which then attracts the predator fish to hang out there as well. They offer plenty of shade as the sun rises. Bass like the shade and the cover as they position themselves in strategic locations to hide and attack unsuspecting meals. They also produce oxygen in the water which is vital to the health of the water.

The canal is lined with lily pads and if you’ll look closely the outer reaches are nearly in a straight line. Water lilies only grow in shallow water so the outer edge of the pads is the well-defined drop off where fish like to congregate as well.

On our first stop, Goosie caught a couple of scrappy large mouth bass that gave us some encouragement that we’d made the right decision. As the morning went on we were able to define the pattern a little more which added to our success.

The bass were relating to the drop off and seemed to be hanging in the deeper water and heading under the lily pads to feed. The fish cooperated in both spots but we caught most of our fish under the lilies.

The pattern we developed made our lure choice pretty easy. Except for a couple of bass I caught on a crank bait, soft plastics were the key. A Strike King Rage Tail Craw in watermelon/red produced well along with Zoom worms in grape and candy bug colors did the damage.

When the morning was over, we boated over 30 bass for our efforts and counted this trip pretty successful. All the action can be seen on Ascension Outdoors TV on EATEL Channels 4 and 704 as well as Facebook and YouTube. We can also use your outdoor photos for the show as well. Email them to ascensionoutdooors@eatel.net or tag us on Facebook with a description.

We also were treated to a full safety inspection by the US Coast Guard on our way back in. The inspection included checking life jackets, throw cushion, fire extinguisher, whistle, registration and drivers license. We passed with flying colors. By the way, my wife was impressed that I had all that stuff in order.

Although 2020 seems to be a tough year, we will get through it! So until next time, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Be safe in the outdoors, have fun and may God truly bless you!