2012 fishing year ends on high note

Published 12:01am Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 was not the greatest year in the fishing scene, but the year did end with some positive news.

Low water levels created poor fishing conditions from late spring until now. By mid-June the water was so hot and so low on most area lakes, fishing (catching) took a dive to the bottom.

The recent rains are a blessing. Lake levels are not back to normal but getting very close.

By early November the surface water temperature began to drop.

Low water levels with water temperatures below 70 degrees are a good thing. The fish were stacked up until now.

Low water limits the places fish will hold, and the cooler temperatures of November turned on the fish.

We had some very good trips catching numbers of bass in the two- to three-pound range with an occasional four-pound fish and a very rare five-plus. The big bass just seem to have disappeared from the landlocked oxbow lakes.

Once a producer of hundreds of trophy bass (fish over 9 pounds), Lake Concordia stopped producing the trophies. There are still enough fish to make it worth the effort to visit the lake, but the numbers of really big bass are gone.

The same thing can be said about Lakes St. John and Bruin. We were catching the numbers of smaller bass, but big fish are extremely rare. Hopefully we will get a slot limit back on Concordia and better, more reasonable creel and length requirements in the future, along with enforcement. LDWF budget cuts have really hurt this state’s fishing. Currently Louisiana fishing regulations are extremely antiquated as compared to neighboring states.

Anglers are allowed a 10-bass creel with 20 in possession with no minimum length requirement. That means one person can kill 20 bass of six inches or longer per day. That’s unbelievably lenient, and when I inquired I was told, “We want people to come to this state and be able to keep what they catch. We are the Sportsmen’s Paradise.”

Well guess what? You cannot catch what is not there, and the out-of-state people no longer come here, because the fishing has slowly gone out the bilge pump. Two people in a boat can have 20 bass in the live-well of any size. I think the 20 per person in possession in a single day means one person can have 20 bass in an ice chest off the water or something like that. If that’s true you and your partner could go fishing, catch 20 eight- to 10-inch bass and take them back to your truck or motel, put them on ice and go catch 20 more for a total of 40 per day. I may be wrong about that, so see if you can find out before you try this and good luck trying to catch 40 bass in a day.

Anyway I started this column with a hint of positive news, so I will hopefully end it on a positive note. We have a good population of two- to three-pound bass in these lakes. Thanks to the many bass clubs and individual sportsmen and women practicing CPR (catch, photograph and release) these fish just may have a chance to reach trophy-bass size by early 2015.

Obviously we had a decent bass spawn a couple of years ago. That would explain the numbers we are catching now.

Addressing a different species, the white perch anglers were just beginning to really load up on big slab perch when this rain knocked the water clarity for a loop. If we get three to four days with no rain, the water will eventually clear up.

A decade ago our lakes would clear up much faster but the coontail moss has disappeared for some unknown reason. Are the dreaded grass carp in our lakes? Did the abnormal low levels of the past three or four years kill all the moss? I do not know. All I know is the moss is gone and with the moss goes better water quality, clarity and better fishing.

There I go again; positive to negative to positive to negative. Anyway, things are looking better in the fishing world.

This was a crazy year. We had a new baby which was a blessing. Good things and bad things happened this year to most all. Happy New Year, and we’ll see you on the water!