The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday announced that because of high water on the Mississippi River, the Bonnet Carré Spillway will be opened Thursday morning at 10 a.m.
That means fresh river water will be diverted into Lake Pontchartrain once more, the last time being in January of 2016.
It also means anglers who’ve been looking forward to fishing for speckled trout at the lake’s famous bridges likely will be disappointed this spring.
“Once the river gets here and takes over, you can forget the trout,” said Chas Champagne, the Slidell-based owner of Matrix Shad soft plastic lures. “They get the hell out of here, that’s for sure. It’s going to suck with April being one of the top months for fishing the bridges in the lake, and it will kill that.
“But at first, what’s going to happen is the fish will get trapped and there will be a bubble of good water somewhere in the lake. Wherever that is, you’re going to have about an additional two weeks of pretty darn good fishing there because they’ll be consolidated.”
The timing of when the river water will arrive at the various bridges in the lake is anyone’s guess. The Causeway will obviously feel the impacts first, but after that, lots of variables come into play.
“The more east winds you have, the more it will hold it up,” Champagne said. “The more west winds you have, the more it will speed it up this way. All of the fish from the west end of the lake will shove this way.
“Every year I’ve seen it we get an accelerated two weeks of fishing (on the east side near the Trestles, the Highway 11 bridge and the Interstate 10 twin spans) whatever time that happens. I’m going to go ahead and guess the last week of March right now.”
Although the spring fishing will be negatively impacted depending on how long the Spillway remains open, Champagne said the silver lining in the cloud is that fall trout fishing will likely rebound in a big way. Plus, fishing for bass and reds in the estuary this summer likely will be a little better than normal.
“It’s going to provide a tremendous amount of grass for the summer and the fall. Once it finally filters out in June or July — we don’t get trout that time of year anyway — that saltwater and freshwater ought to start mixing really good and you’ll get some real pretty grass, and we ought to have a really nice summer for sight-fishing reds and bass fishing in general.
“But every fall I can recall after a Spillway opening is a really good fall. And the last time we had a flounder run in the lake was the year they really opened the Spillway.”