Cold front, storm mean big trouble

We’ve been fortunate this year: There have been no hurricanes to bring us worries about a storm’s effects on habitat and fish numbers.

Let’s pray that continues, but a tropical system will put most every coastal spot and some of the best freshwater locations off the map for the coming weekend.

The prediction is that an approaching cold front, the first significant cool weather pushing southward, will move the tropical weather from west to east across our coast toward the Florida Panhandle’s beaches. That means rough conditions throughout the southernmost parishes and offshore waters into next week.

And it means swelling water levels into the rivers and the freshwater marshes, a sure bet that high water will cover roads along the lower southeastern parishes, and extra-high water in the coastal bays, lakes and ponds.

The good news is that when the water drops, redfish and trout will gather to feed on storm minnows, and the major rivers will continue to fall and produce first-rate bass and panfish catches.

Weather

Expect 10-20 knot east-southeast winds through Saturday with 15-20 knot north winds coming when the cold front pushes through Sunday. Look for rough seas through the weekend.

The southerly winds will quiet the steady falls in the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers, but the north winds will help push more water and drop the Mississippi from a 3-foot reading to a 2.5 level at New Orleans and a 2.7 to a 2.3 mark on the Atchafalaya by Tuesday.

Heavy rains are forecast Friday-Saturday with drier, cooler conditions Sunday.

Freshwater

The tropical weather will affect the Pearl River, the bayous and rivers in the Pontchartrain Basin, the marshes south of U.S. 90 and the lower Atchafalaya Spillway through Saturday. As the system pushes to the east and north winds move in Sunday, fish in these waters should react with longer and heavier feeding periods.

The weather also means the likely best spots will be the Atchafalaya Spillway’s middle section (Bayou Pigeon and Grand Lake), the bayous and canals off Lake Verret, and the oxbow lakes from Old River north to Concordia and St. John.

Bass and sac-a-lait aren’t likely to react to the high barometric pressure coming with the cold front, because they’re more interested in reacting to the full moon, feeding and the rising, then falling water levels.

Old River bass are taking topwaters, buzzbaits and spinnerbaits around cypress trees, stumps and brushtops on both the levee and island side of this oxbow. Try light colors on bright days and darker colors during darker periods. Sac-a-lait are taking blue/white and black/chartreuse tubes around the deep cypress and around piers.The coast

Heading south will be an iffy proposition: Be aware of the rough conditions and the heavy chance of storms.