Tchefuncte River Flooding Changes Fishing Outlook

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.

Peter Egan soaking wet after wading through a flooded road

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.

Tchefuncte River Flooding
The water in this photo is normally dry land.
Tchefuncte River Flood
The flooding actually got a lot worse than this.
House on the Tchefunce River
This is where the water level is on an average day.
House on the Tchefuncte River
Same house shown in above photos, only the ground isn’t covered by water like it was June 21, 2017.

Peter Egan Enjoys Offshore Fishing Trip Out of Venice LA

Peter Egan Offshore Fishing

Peter Egan recently had an opportunity to go offshore fishing with a couple good buddies from high school.

I received a phone call around 6 pm on a Friday night early in May. It was Justin Richard, a friend from high school asking if I’d like to join them for a fishing trip the next morning. That didn’t leave me with a whole lot of time to prepare given that Venice is a good 3.5 hour drive from Covington, however I made it work.

Justin and his father Mitch are a couple of the big shots at Calmar Insulation. If you’re not familiar with the company, they’re the ones that insulated the Superdome during the renovations after Katrina, so it’s a fairly large company.

Calmar Insulation

Anyway, they have a really nice fishing boat, and I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to do some blue water, deep sea, offshore fishing in hopes of landing a Tuna, Grouper or Red Snapper.

By the time I made it to Venice (Louisiana) everyone was sound asleep, so I slept in my car and met up with them at around 5:00 am.

The sunrise was beautiful. There’s no words to describe what the sun looks like when it peaks over the horizon out on the open water on what turned out to be a magnificent day.

Sunrise on Offshore Fishing Trip

It was a fun-filled day and a great chance to reconnect with a couple friends I’ve had for more than two decades.

While we didn’t get any Tuna, Grouper or Red Snapper, we did catch a few Amberjack. Unfortunately, at the time there was a federal moratorium in place and we had to de-hook the fish without bringing them into the boat so as to do as little harm as possible.

Jack Crevalle

While I didn’t catch an Amberjack, I did get several bites, caught a few smaller fish in the 2-3 pound range, and landed one 60 pound Jack Crevalle that fought harder than any fish I’ve ever landed in my entire life. I kept the fish, cutting it up to use as crab bait for my grandfather. He’s too old to catch his own bait and throw his own traps so he needs someone to do it for him, and once I got that fish aboard I wasn’t about to let that opportunity slip away.

I literally fought that fish for what seemed like an hour and felt like it must’ve weight at least 150 pounds. I’ve never caught a fish that fights as hard as a Jack Crevalle relative to the fish’s size. Part of that might have been that I was using medium-action spinning gear, but I’d have it no other way.

Peter Egan Muscles

At the end of the day, I had an incredible time offshore fishing for a solid 10 hours. People pay a lot of money to have the privilege to do that, and I got to do it because I’m friends with someone who owns a boat big enough and designed to accommodate fishing in 600 feet of water.

I am very grateful to the Richards and wish I could thank them enough for the invitation. Any time y’all care to invite me to go fishing with you count me in.

Offshore fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is so much fun it’s hard to describe. If you’ve never done it, want to do it but don’t know anyone with a boat, I’d highly recommend doing planning your trip with a guide like Troy Wetzel and get your Venice fishing in with a professional that will ensure you catch your share of fish, and the right kind of fish.

Oil Rig in Gulf of Mexico (Fishing)

Not all guides are the same. My great uncle for example rarely returns to shore without all of his clients limiting out on both speckled trout and redfish (red drum), sometimes with a black drum, flounder (or four) or sheepshead mixed in. However, not all guides care that their clients have a good time.

If you’re paying for a fishing trip, it’s worth putting the time and effort into thoroughly vetting your guide and making sure his clients have nothing but good things to say. I once went on an inshore saltwater trip out of Venice with a captain whose name I can’t remember (I think it was Chad, but I’m not certain and can’t recall his last name). He was just awful. He’d angle his boat in such a way that only he could cast near the grass beds, allowing him to catch all the fish and catch everybody’s limit while the rest of us fished in futility in water where we weren’t going to catch a fish if we fished it a month straight because of the way he would position the boat.

To make matters worse, he ridiculed his clients for not catching fish when it was clearly evident that the only reason he was and we weren’t was because he had the trolling motor and would angle the boat in such a way that only he had access to the grass beds and shelves. If I ever remember that guy’s name I’m going to update this post with it as a warning to anyone thinking about booking a fishing charter.

Venice Louisiana Fishing Trip

Back to my recent fishing trip, I was extremely grateful even though it wasn’t a great day in terms of catching fish. I was an invited guest. I paid them nothing. I did offer to help pay for gas but there was some kind of problem at the marina where they couldn’t split the bill and I didn’t have any cash on me. I’ll settle up the next time I see Justin.

If you’ve never been offshore fishing I urge you to make a point of doing it at least once in your life. It’s well worth the experience whether you catch that 800 pound tuna or not.

If you need offshore fishing rods, reels, lures, tackle and other gear, check out the offshore fishing category at the PeterEgan.net fishing store.