The Great Flood 2019

2019 has been a year of records for the Mississippi River in Louisiana. This year marks the first time the Bonnet Carre spillway has been open in consecutive years. Not only that, 2019 marks the first time in history the Bonnet Carre has been opened twice in the same year. When open to capacity, up to 250,000cfs of water is diverted from the river into Lake Ponchatrain. These freshwater water inflows negatively affect the fishing in the Louisiana Delta for a short time. Decreased salinity and higher sediment loads decrease visibility and promote algae growth. Suspended particles in the water column reduce visibility, making sight fishing incrementally more difficult. But, the situation is far from hopeless. These freshwater inflows are the lifeblood of our fishery. Inflows carry sediment both organic and inorganic from upstream, which settle out as water fans out across the delta. The rich sediment deposited from these flood events serves as the primary food source for the shrimp, crab, and shellfish that make the estuary so prolific and further serve as the foundation of the food chain for the Redfish, Sheephead, and Black Drum this fishery has become so renowned for. The floods also promote the formation of new marshland and vegetation, which further serves to filter the water and create the ideal sight fishing we’ve grown accustomed to in South Louisiana. As you can see from the pictures below. In spite of the tough conditions prevalent throughout the complex, at certain times on certain tides the fishery will give you a glimpse of the incredible fishing soon to come. The best time to come is when you can.


As we move into June, the fall season is fast upon us. I’ve received many calls the last few weeks from concerned anglers inquiring about how the fall season will play out and if it will be worth coming down this year. I can emphatically say without hesitation that I’m confident this fall and winter will be one for the record books. Given the river has been at or near flood stage the entire first half of 2019, I’m confident the high water will subside as we move through the year. In addition, I can tell you this; when river conditions improve, the fishery will respond in ways that few have witnessed but everyone has dreamt about. In short the fishing is about to go off!


In other news, I’m proud to announce that I joined the Hells Bay Boatworks family earlier this year with the purchase of a Waterman powered by Yamaha Outboards. I’m really excited about getting back into a technical skiff with improved shallow water capability. The new skiff has opened the door to some parts of the fishery that I’ve not been able to access in the past. The Waterman is ultra-skinny, and deadly quiet on the pole. Lately, I’ve been able to sneak up on some fish that I would never thought possible with the equipment I’ve had in the past. The boat rides amazingly dry and smooth in a chop for a skiff of this size. I think you’ll enjoy the Hells Bay advantage on your next trip to New Orleans.

If you’ve fished with me in the past I hope to see you again soon so we can talk about old times and celebrate the fish we caught and the ones we didn’t. I also look forward to the coming season and the chance to build new friendships and make memories with great anglers in what is without a doubt one of the best fly-fishing destinations in the United States. - JLW