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, November 14, 2006

A Good Line

Another good morning and another good cup of coffee.

The first thing that comes to mind with a title like the one above probably isn’t what it means in this case. No, in this case it means the trotline out in the river behind our house. It has been a remarkable season for that line, or maybe I should say “seasons”. Those who have followed this blog from its early postings will remember that the line crosses the river, is 600 feet long and has 100 hooks spaced six feet apart. I put the line in the water in the early summer (as I usually do each year) of 2005, as the water receded below the 8 foot mark on the Butte La Rose gauge. Normally the line would fish well for the summer and fall, until the water rose again past the same mark and the current became too strong to hold the line – at which point I would remove the line. Then the water would usually continue to rise to its high point for the year sometime around April, and fall slowly thereafter. Well, last year was different. The very low water in 2005 continued beyond the time it usually rises, and it never did rise very much. It actually never forced me to remove the line, I just quit fishing it for a couple weeks and then it receded again. I believe the high for last spring was about 11 feet instead of the usual 18 feet or more.

However, due to my reorientation following retirement, I didn’t fish the line very much in the spring or summer of this year. It just sort of stayed where it was for the last six months or so. Then a couple days ago I got the envie to see some fish on the hooks and realized I couldn’t fish the line until I changed all the stageons. The swivels I use are good for one fishing season, and these had been on the line for almost two full seasons. When the swivels are that old the hooks come flying off as you snap the line to clean it. So, yesterday I made up 25 stageons and used them to replace the first 25 on the trotline. I baited them with river shrimp and hoped I would catch a fish big enough for us to fillet and bake.

Today I made up 25 more stageons and went down to the river to replace the next 25 hooks. As I ran the first 25 that I had baited yesterday I started catching fish, ending with 12 fish for the first 25 hooks. That’s almost 50%, and good catching any time, especially after almost six months of not running the line. Hence the title of this posting. And to top it off, one of the fish was big enough to provide the fillets I was hoping for, and it’s pictured here. The other fish were not little ones either. Looking forward to running the 50 hooks tomorrow and adding another 25.

Yesterday it rained on the river, as it did all over the area. Some of the time it rained as the sun was shining. The mood of the rain falling through the trees in our yard with the sun in the background is mellowing.

The river is at 7.3 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge, falling to 6.3 by Saturday. The Ohio and Mississippi are both falling steadily all the way up.

Rise and Shine, Jim


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