Excess water makes fishing tough, scatters ducks, floods low-lying camps
Excessive fall and early-winter rainfall frustrated North Louisiana sportsmen, scattering ducks, making deer hunting tough and forcing the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to close major roads leading to popular wildlife management areas.
Lakes and rivers were out of their banks, some low-lying hunting camps were flooded and too much water pretty much ruined an already tough duck season. From Thanksgiving into the new year, things got worse — and it has lot of folks worried about this spring.
“We haven’t had as many ducks as usual this year, and even though we started getting them toward the end of the season, there is just so much water that they scattered out and there were no concentrations,” said Jeff Simmons, with Simmons’ Sporting Goods in Bastrop. “This is one of the worst duck seasons I can remember, with low numbers of ducks and thousands of acres of water everywhere. The water just had no where to go.”
The end of the 2018-19 deer season also was frustrating for many hunters, not only because they couldn’t hunt, but because many of the low-lying woods flooded during the latter part of the season, with some people losing their camps to the high water. For much of the season, woods in some areas were impassible because of standing water.
“We hunt in Tensas not far from the Yucatan, and we got up there in time to get most of our gear out by boat when this started, but we could not save our camper trailers and other equipment,” said Chris Hogan of Hahnville, one of many from South Louisiana who travel north to hunt and fish. “It just came up too fast. The roads went under and were closed. We aren’t the only ones that happened to.
“I’ve been hunting up there nearly 25 years and I’ve never seen it where the river has been this high this early and stayed backed up in the woods that long and that deep. It’s crazy.”
Peyton McKinnie of Tiger Bend Outdoors in Marion has seen flooding both on Lake D’Arbonne and in the woods of Union Parish.
“The lake has been up several times and hurt fishing. The lower deer hunting areas are pretty much all under water,” he said. “The whole Upper Ouachita National Refuge is flooded. There are some folks that it helped. People deer hunting on higher ground started seeing a lot more deer because they were having to leave the bottoms. Our lakes and rivers are backed up, too. They opened floodgates on Lake D’Arbonne all the way, and it kept the lake from having major flooding, but that caused Bayou D’Arbonne down to the Ouachita River to rise even more.”
The conditions also affected other areas: The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries closed roads and blocked access to parts of several prime wildlife management areas during hunting season, including Grassy Lake, Attakapas, Russell Sage, Richard K. Yancey, Pearl River and Dewey Wills.