The aftermath of Hurricane Isaac has left many folks wondering how long waters and lands, and the mix of water and land that is so south Louisiana, will take to recover.
Maybe longer than anyone wants — or knows.
Saturday’s visit to National Hunting and Fishing Day festivities and activities furthered the questions. Right now, there are few definitive answers.
It’s not that the state’s top fisheries and wildlife biologists and environment scientists haven’t seen these conditions before. Many of them have, some dating to Hurricane Andrew 20 years ago, but most said Saturday that they didn’t want to jump to conclusions.
Yet, there was a common thread running through most of their don’t-quote-me comments: Waters, lands, animals and fishes east of the Mississippi were hit hard by a storm that was barely a hurricane and made landfall a little more than 100 miles to the west.
As folks in St. Charles, Ascension, Livingston, Tangipahoa and St. Tammany will testify, the Isaac-caused water levels were staggering and in some places higher than higher-category storms like Katrina and Gustav. The water pushed farther inland than any of those major storms in 2005 or 2008 and invaded the tributaries of Lake Maurepas, the northernmost lake in the vast Pontchartrain Basin.
While wind-caused structural damage was far from Katrina levels in these parishes, Isaac’s push flooded areas that had far less water damage than previous storms.
Upland-game biologists said they know the water displaced wildlife. Water levels in the southern reaches of Ascension Parish began receding early last week, three weeks after Isaac’s push through the state’s central parishes.
Fisheries biologists know there were fish kills in the Florida Parishes rivers and streams in the Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchtrain drainages, and fish kills even showed up in the Biloxi Marsh and the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge on Pontchartrain’s south side.
Worst for hunters is the saltwater brought by Isaac’s surge tore up marsh that had recently recovered from Katrina’s destructive run. Teal, which invaded the Biloxi Marsh, Delacroix and Caernarvon areas for the past two September seasons are not holding those early migrants today.
For now, the biologists said they’re continuing with water and species studies, and the environmental folks continue to check areas east of the Mississippi for lingering impacts from the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil disaster for anything akin to what washed up the week after the storm on Elmer’s Island.
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents recovered the body of Charles “Chuck” Trascher from the Ouachita River early Saturday morning. Trascher was reported missing Thursday evening when he didn’t return from a fishing trip. The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office assisted in the search.
Trascher, 64, from Monroe, is the father of CCA S.T.A.R. director Rad Trascher.
Teal’s last week
When the first special September teal season shots were fired a week ago Saturday, the estimated 500 hunters on the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management area were not the ones pulling the triggers.
State biologists checked 364 hunters on WMA that first morning and the take was a paltry .8 teal per hunter.
The numbers improved during the week, and with another cold front scheduled to hit the coast early Monday morning, the past week’s efforts — the 16-day season ends next Sunday — could and should be much better. After the season’s first cool front blew in early last week, the midweek bag improved to 2.3 teal per hunter.
The most productive coastal public hunting area is Pointe aux Chenes WMA where the hauls average 2.9 teal per hunter.
Pass a Loutre WMA hunters near Venice along the Mississippi River struggled to see teal. Hunters at nearby Delta National Wildlife Refuge had better success, but nothing to rival what hunters took the past two special September hunts.
Get the book
Birders have until Wednesday to save $5 on a book that should be a standard for all outdoorsmen.
The “Audubon Birds — A Field Guide to North American Birds” usually sells for $9.99 but is $4.99 through Wednesday. The book catalogs 819 species with photographs, field marks for 650 birds, range maps, wintering range maps and a journal to record sightings. It’s for sale on iOS, Android and Kindle Fire.