March 13, 2019

Bonnet Carré 2019 Part 3: Positive Things To Look Forward To

Not one for negative news? Can't stand whining? Here's a more upbeat and optimistic take on this year's opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway.


Where we'd like to see "trout green" water we are currently seeing the inshore equivalent of "chocolate milk".

No, it's not the tasty stuff your kids like, but the stuff that brings good inshore fishing to a grinding halt.

But what's that old saying?

Is There Anything Positive To The Bonnet Carré Spillway Opening?

Yes! There are a few things:

Plan Redfish

Redfish are a "go to" when the fishing gets tough and there are plenty of them in the marsh to keep us busy until fall arrives.

They're still there, will always be there, and the proliferation of aquatic grasses makes fishing for them easier.

Trout Could Get A Break

Speckled trout need at least 17ppt saltwater to spawn and, as a reference, full strength saltwater is 35ppt, and we find trout wintering in saltwater as low as 2-3ppt.

The problem is that approaching river water dilutes salinity closer to land, pushing that required 17ppt further away from the marsh... spots not protected from the wind... the same spots you need the weather to cooperate if you ever hope to reach them.

With fewer anglers able to access them during the spawn, trout very well could get a break from fishing pressure.

What does this mean?

We could see higher levels of recruitment since they can spawn before being caught.

That and trout can grow bigger, since they're not being caught.

And the day will eventually come that salinity levels rise...

Note to Non-Louisiana Readers:

Caught and kept are virtually synonymous in Louisiana, where our creel limits are geared towards maximum yield, and catch and release is not widely practiced.

We have a food culture here (hey, folks come from all over the world to try our cuisine!) and keeping limits of speckled trout (25 per angler, per day) is widely accepted, all to feed family and friends with awesome food.

Not dinging on anyone here, just wanted to clear any confusion.


With the onslaught of more river water, we could  see an improved bass bite in the marsh.

This would come on top of the "bass-plosion" we've already seen with "the freshening" of the marsh due to 2009's MRGO closure and the record amount of river water in the last few years.

With that said, unless we start consistently catching fish heavier than three pounds, I can't get that excited over marsh bass, though there are certainly large numbers of them.

Exactly how big are our marsh bass?

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries electrofishes places like Caernarvon and Bayou Bienvenue to determine the number and health of largemouth bass in those areas. 

You may view their findings in this report here.

If I am going bass fishing, I'd rather go where there's an established Florida-strain population and grind for some real hammers, places like Lake Conroe or Chickamauga.

The land where average bass outweigh a "big" speckled trout.

With that said, let me tell you this: if you've never had a great day of froggin', then you've never had a great day of topwater action.

The best, most fun, topwater action I've ever been on was in complete freshwater, pulling hawgs out of thick, matted grass on the Tennessee River.

But it gets better: redfish are absolutely bonkers for frogs!

redfish frog

It's a great topwater bait to fish thick grass with and I've witnessed reds bang U-turns in a pond to suck one down.

It's safe to say that a good frog bite is viable in our abundant inshore marshes.

Great Speckled Trout Fishing Will Happen

Yes, speckled trout fishing as we knew it has been put on hold, but mark my words:

When the rivers get super low, if there is a drought, the speckled trout fishing will light on fire.

The best trout years we've had always came on the heels of drier weather, and that's something we have to look forward to.

Don't Get Me Wrong

There's still great trout fishing to be had, right now and in the immediate future.

Not sure? Visit LAFB Inshore and eat your heart out!

Those fishing reports are proof that, despite the minor nuisance the Bonnet Carré Spillway is being, there's a lot to be positive about and look forward to.

We have great fishing here in Louisiana, so get out there and make some memories.

Tight lines, y'all.

Captain Devin

About the Author

Devin is a veteran of the Iraq War and former fishing guide. He founded Louisiana Fishing Blog in 2012 to share his ideas as a charter captain and still writes in it today. Since then he's created a fishing university — LAFB Elite — where he teaches inshore anglers how to safely navigate Louisiana's coast and catch more fish.

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  • Bill, there’s a TON of resources on this site for that very thing, and if you use the Categories tab or search box at the bottom of every page you’ll be able to find all of them. Thanks man.

  • Devin,
    What’s a good resource to view a satellite image of the impact of the river water into Lakes Ponchartrain & Borgne?
    I’ve heard it’s already near the Chandeleur area.

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