This blog originates on the banks of the Atchafalaya River, in Louisiana. It proposes to share the things that happen on and by the river as the seasons progress. As the river changes from quiet, warm, slow flow to rises of eighteen feet or more, there are changes in the lives of the birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles that use the river. And the mood of the river changes with the seasons. I propose to note and comment on these things.

My Photo
Location: Butte La Rose, Louisiana, United States

I transitioned a few years ago from a career as a water-pollution control biologist. I want to do this blog to stay in touch with a world outside my everyday surroundings, whatever they may be. I like open-minded company and the discussion of ideas. Photo by Brad Moon.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Blue Cats or Channel Cats

I did run the line on Sunday after baiting it with shrimp on Saturday. It did pretty well – 12 blue cats, 4 channel cats, and 5 gous. So, that was 21 fish and 22 fish for the two consecutive days I baited it. Forty three fish is plenty enough to clean, for me at least. I cleaned them all yesterday afternoon and it took me 21/2 hours. Some of the catfish and most of the gous were too big to clean by hand and when you have to hang them it takes more time. But now the freezer is starting to look more respectable with about 50 catfish and 15 gous in it. With the beginning of a stockpile, I can begin to think about trading. One thing about the line, I baited with about a dozen small live fish and they were not touched in four days. This is odd because live bait usually catches something nice, like a ten pound goujon or something like that. This time – nothing. Come to think of it, it has been a while since I caught a goujon of any size. I have noticed over the past six years we have lived by the river that I seem to be catching fewer and fewer large fish as each year passes. I think I’m fishing the same way, so I don’t think that’s the problem. I know I’m not fishing them out because the river is way too big for me to influence the fish population in a serious way; there is a constant source of new fish from above and below. That’s a good feeling. When you fish the dead-end canals and small bayous, especially in the marsh, you can literally catch most of the fish in this limited water, and then you have to wait until more fish move in, or you have to move your lines to a different place.

Earlier I mentioned that the best way to tell the difference between blue and channel cats was to look at the anal fin (lower fin just ahead of the tail). The channel cat has a rounded edge on the fin and a blue cat has a straight edge. I didn’t have a picture of both together earlier, but yesterday I had both and I think this picture shows the difference.

The river is showing a constant line of small drift for the last four days. This is odd because there was none earlier in the week, and the water has been steadily falling. It’s a rule of thumb that drift occurs because of a rise, or a heavy local rain, but neither of these has happened. Among the drift is a frequent whiteness that stands out so that your eye is drawn to it - more than the usual number of willow limbs contrasting with the brown water because their bark has been removed by beavers somewhere upstream. Beavers chewed some of my wood at the river last night, not much but some. It was treated pine, the kind that has been removed from the market because of potential toxicity. Would the beavers spit it out?

The river is at 4.4 feet right now on the Butte La Rose gauge, and will fall to 4.0 by Sunday. The Mississippi and Ohio are both showing slight rises. That may be enough to hold what water we have left, when those small rises come down the Mississippi.

Rise and Shine, Jim


Blogger Joe said...

March, 16, 2006

The Cedar Wax Wings seem to have arrived overnight! There are hundreds of them in the hackberry trees in my yard. I guess they wanted to be here for the Audubon Pilgrimage or St. Patricks Day!
Take Care,
Joe Holmes

March 17, 2006 9:00 AM  
Blogger JZ said...

I'd like to come check out the trotline runnin' with you one day. Seems like a good excuse to come hang out with a good friend and learn some new stuff about fish!

March 24, 2006 11:35 AM  

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