Capt. Owen “Big O” Langridge isn’t particularly concerned about the effects Tropical Storm Cindy might have on fishing conditions down in Venice.
In fact, Langridge, who owns Big O Charters, is heading down to Venice today to clean up his boat and do some preventative maintenance, and still plans on fishing Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“We’re going to have dirty water, but we’ve had dirty water for a month and a half in Venice, so that isn’t really a big thing …. As soon as it quits raining and the wind lays, you’re going to get pockets of clean water again and we’ll start catching fish,” he said. “This is just a bump in the road.”
The Mississippi River is finally dropping steadily, and Langridge is banking on the effects of a falling river trumping adverse conditions caused by the tropical storm.
“It’s rolling down now, and I hate to not be in Venice when the river is falling. For some reason, the fish know when the river is falling,” he said. “I don’t know how they’re smart enough to know it, but when the river is falling, the fish bite.”
Over to the west in Big Lake, Capt. Nick Poe is keeping a close eye on Cindy’s track. With heavy rains now positioned on the east side of the storm, Poe is hoping Big Lake gets the benefit of a salty storm surge — without buckets of rainfall.
“I think it could be really what we need if we don’t see a lot of rain off it. If we see just a high tide and don’t get much rain, we’ll be in really good shape — better than we are now,” said Poe, who explained that Big Lake has been battling lots of freshwater during a very wet spring and early summer. “But if we end up getting 10 inches of rain, it’s going to be tough on us again for a while.
“It’ll be right back where we started, but worse.”
Poe, with Big Lake Guide Service, said his customers still have been catching solid limits of trout, especially in the last week, despite the conditions — but right when things are about to really turn on, it seems like another deluge comes.
“It’s just been one of those years. We’re catching a ton of fish for the conditions we’re being presented with, but every time it starts to get right and you start seeing green water down on the south end of the lake, and you’re thinking, ‘Man, it’s getting ready to bust loose and be unbelievable all over the lake,’ they get 10 inches of rain in Kinder and all that freshwater comes down the river and we’re stuck right back where we were.”
In Grand Isle, Tommy Vidrine said a storm like this could mean a serious trout bite as soon as this weekend.
“Those trout aren’t going anywhere — they’re just going to hunker down,” Vidrine said. “Some of the big ones might instinctively go to the first rigs and get in 30 feet of water so they don’t feel the impact as much, and the water might be clearer down there so they can still eat.
“But a lot of those fish in the back of the island and in the marsh will just hunker down. They don’t go anywhere — they just don’t eat for three days because they can’t see because the water’s dirty.”
He’s hoping the worst of the storm is today and conditions have time to improve on Thursday and Friday.
“If this thing passes by Thursday and kind of dies down and then it’s calm all day on Friday, Saturday will be on fire at Grand Isle,” he said. “I would say by then I’ll be catching some big fish in the Creole Classic.”
Over toward Lake Pontchartrain, Chas Champagne with Matrix Shad said he’s also concerned about the potential of heavy rains forecast for the New Orleans area.
“It’s going to bring us a nice storm surge, but the way it’s moving it looks like it’s going to turn around and all our rivers are going to flood, so we’ll be back to where we started,” Champagne said. “If it would have given us like a 2- or 3-foot storm surge and only a couple of inches of rain, that would have helped our salinities. They’ve been sitting around 1, and we need them to be around 7.
“It might spike up for the next few days, but it’s just going to fall back down once the rivers start flooding.”
Champagne said it’s possible some fish that might normally be outside could get pushed up, so that action might increase at the rigs in Lake Borgne or the L&N Bridge, but the status of the Pearl River remains a big question mark.
“I just don’t think it’s going to be one of those storms where you’ll see things really kick off in our area because we’ll get so much rain,” he said.
Down in Dularge, Capt. Marty LaCoste said he took time Tuesday to batten down the hatches at his camp, and was wondering how high the water might actually get.
"Originally, it looked like the storm was going to the east of us, so we thought we were getting north winds with no flooding," said LaCoste, with Absolute Fishing Charters. "But now, it's coming to the west of us, so we're going to get south winds for the next four to five days, which is going to push the water up.
"We're expecting it to come over the dock — we just don't know how high it might get. It could come up 6 inches or a foot — we just don't know. It's unpredictable."
Depending on when the storm actually passes, LaCoste said he expects the fishing to get back to normal by early next week at the latest.
"As long as the wind calms down, it takes two days at the most if the water gets dirty for it to clean up," he said. "This wind has been relentless. I've never seen a June this windy. But every time we get a calm day and can actually get out to the fish, we've been killing them .... On Monday, the water wasn't even clean and we just slaughtered the trout."