The only thing that stays the same is change, and our marsh is the greatest example.
You don’t need to have been around long to know the marsh has, once again, made a big change.
Some grumble over it, others look forward to it with eagerness.
It’s a long story.
Once upon a time, the marsh existed in a way much different from what we see now.
See, as you traveled from high ground to the ocean, you’d notice these changes in the landscape:
Pines turned to oaks, that gave way to cypress-filled swamp, which turned into freshwater marsh before changing into the salty prairie marsh, then some big bays and sounds, a few barrier islands and finally the Gulf of Mexico itself.
But man came in and begun changing that landscape to accommodate himself.
Cypress trees were felled and canals were dug, allowing saltwater to intrude to places it had never been.
What trees were left died from the exposure, further altering the landscape.
Aquatic species changed, too. Freshwater fish gave way to the inshore variety.
Then, to finish it off, a long and complex levee system cut off the marsh from the Mississippi River, denying them the freshwater and sediment needed to stay alive.
Today we have coastal restoration projects that are, once again, changing the landscape, for better or worse.
The idea is to revert our wetlands to their natural state, or as close as possible, because that is how they thrived best, for thousands of years before we showed up.
To do this, the Mighty Mississippi is being reconnected to where she once flowed, those troublesome canals have been plugged, cypress trees are being planted and dredging projects have built more land.
All these things are pushing saltwater back, reverting parts of the marsh to the way they once were.
The places we once caught limits of flounder we are now catching limits of largemouth bass.
I’m sure you’ve seen this in our fishing reports.
Places like Shell Beach, Lake Catherine and Bayou Bienvenue have lost their high salinity and are now creating habitat for America’s fish.
I’m not upset over this, since “green trout” don’t leave the marsh, make excellent fillets and are fun to catch!
A good bass fishery has the potential to attract the attention of prominent bass tournaments, bringing those dollars to our tackle stores, marinas, lodges and gas stations.
It gets better!
Where ever bass thrive in our marsh redfish tend to do just as well.
However, this “freshening” could hurt the speckled trout action, since they need higher salinity levels to spawn during the summer.
Zero to low salinity levels could relocate trout farther away, but it is important to note that we do see them alongside bass and redfish in places like Delacroix and Venice, during the fall, winter and spring seasons.
Recall the epic levels of river water that invaded Lake Pontchartrain last year and in 2016.
That fall and following spring proved to be one of the best in years, but only after low rivers and strong east wind brought in enough salt.
The only constant in Louisiana is change and this time it’s the return of the black bass.
The best way to adapt to this change is to look forward, not backward, and take advantage of this opportunity for inshore fishing.
What do you think? Comment below.
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