Tchefuncte River Flooding Impacts Fishing Outlook
Monday, June 19, I was amazed at the size and aggressiveness of the catfish feeding on a cup of dry dog food I had thrown into the water from my weight room balcony. There were at least a dozen fish over 2-feet long and countless smaller fish fighting each other for the dog foot. Two massive catfish would collide and they’d both make a splash similar to what you would expect to hear if you dropped a cinder block into the water from about 20 feet up in the air. It was quite a display.
Nature has a way of knowing when major weather events are imminent, and these fish were forecasting a storm and subsequent flooding that I hadn’t anticipated despite seeing the signs first-hand (the fish going crazy).
Had I realized the storm was going to cause such severe flooding I’d have gotten a hotel room so as to not be trapped inside my house. Being flooded in, I decided to take the unexpected day off from work to try and catch some of those massive catfish I had seen feeding just two nights before.
Unfortunately, the day had other plans for me. Shortly after catching my first catfish (a relatively small one), as I was removing the hook my dog Paris swallowed the wad of Magic Bait catfish bait — hook and all — that was attached to my other rod and which I was about to throw in the water.
Well, I wasn’t able to get her to throw it up and had to cut the line, leaving the hook somewhere inside my dog’s throat or stomach. Luckily, my brother was in the area and he was able to meet me after I waded through waist-high water to carry the dog to the roadway (that wasn’t flooded), and bring her to the vet for me.
Luckily, the vet called a few hours later and said the surgery was a success and that the dog was expected to make a full recovery. My bank account likely won’t make a full recovery, but that’s a different story for a different day.
Anyway, I fished for about three hours after that. I caught five small catfish. Had I done my fishing two days prior, all my efforts chumming in order to keep catfish in the area would have resulted in quite a haul. After the flood, the effect of the chum was minimized as fish have access to new ground that’s usually dry and tend to leave their regular spaces exploring their new, temporary territory.
I’m going to try again in a few hours once it’s dark (which is when I normally see the big blue catfish – for whatever reason they won’t eat during the day, even if I throw the same food in the same spot). Hopefully, my efforts tonight will yield better results than the five 12-14 ounce catfish I caught during the day.
If you were planning on fishing the Tchefuncte the remainder of this week or this weekend, I’d suggest a change-of-plan. Everything that would normally apply in fishing the Tchefuncte can be thrown out the window in these conditions, including but not limited to there being twice the water containing the same number of fish (meaning the fish are more spread out and thus harder to catch). I would recommend booking a fishing trip where results are pretty much guaranteed. The storm system is well past the southern tip of southeast Louisiana, so offshore fishing should be close to normal if not completely normal by now.
My advice would be to call someone like Captain Troy Wetzel and ask him about the conditions in and around Venice, LA. If he’s comfortable going out in the Gulf and doing some offshore fishing, book a fishing charter with him or someone like him, depending on whether you prefer to fish offshore or inshore saltwater.
If you opt to fish inshore saltwater, make sure to do your research on the fishing captain. There are just as many bad as there are good. Not everyone with a nice bay boat has the tools to be a good charter captain. Certain guides will ensure their clients limit out every time out, while others are still trying to learn what the good ones (like Willy Serpas) have known for decades.
Offshore charters generally involve less risk because there isn’t as much nuance involved in terms of finding the fish and catching them. The oil rigs are the only structures out there. The only questions is are the fish biting that particular day. Sure, read reviews and make sure you don’t overpay or get stuck with an amateur, but generally speaking as long as you communicate your goals and establish that those goals are consistent with the captain’s strengths, there’s not as much risk when fishing offshore as compared to inshore.
To read more about offshore fishing, leaving out of Venice, LA, check out the following post: Peter Egan Enjoys Offshore Fishing Trip Out of Venice LA.
Anyway, below are some photos of the flooding, along with some photos showing what the water level normally looks like for anyone interested.