As subpar as water conditions have been in and around Vermilion Bay, some outdoorsmen may have feared Hurricane Barry applying the knockout blow to sport fishing out of Cypremort Point.
Apparently, based on field reports and after talking to several veteran redfish fishermen who fished last weekend’s Southcentral Fishing Association Classic, the Bay and surrounding waters came out smelling like a rose, if that’s possible.
More than one of those Classic qualifiers, who fished one week after the storm made landfall as a hurricane at Intracoastal City, said Barry did us a favor by blowing some bad water out of the Bay. The water wasn’t any saltier but it looked better, they said.
That makes sense, according to a local saltwater fishermen who consistently puts speckled trout in the boat when water conditions are favorable.
“Yeah, you get water from way out in the Gulf,” Troy Amy of New Iberia said around midday Saturday.
While Amy, 53-year-old toolman at Warrior Energy Services, hasn’t been in the Bay at all in 2019, he has fished it since he was 19 when he started going out in a jo-boat with his brother-in-law, Ty Bonin of Avery Island. A recent report from Bonin and a falling Atchafalaya River encouraged Amy.
Bonin fetched his houseboat from near Quintana Canal and moved it to a safer place before Barry’s arrival in Acadiana, Amy said. He took it back to its mooring spot near The Cove and reported what he saw to Amy.
“I tell you what, he came around Blue Point coming back, and he said, ‘It’s unbelievable. The water’s almost fishable,’” Amy said.
Vermilion Bay has been mostly a chocolate mess because the Atchafalaya River was at minor flood stage for several months this year before falling about 1 ½ weeks ago. The river pours into the east side of Cote Blanche Bay via the Wax Lake Outlet and also dumps into Atchafalaya Bay at the mouth of the Atchafalaya River.
How discolored and fresh has the water been? Amy, who remembers reports of anglers catching speckled trout around the wharves along the Point during the 2018 Iberia Rod & Gun Club Saltwater Fishing Rodeo on the Fourth of July, said he checks the salinity levels and they have been consistently under 1 part per thousand.
“I didn’t look today but it had been 0.3 ppt, 0.8 ppt,” he said. “We’ve caught fish already (in the past) when it was 1 part per thousand … but the water was clear.”
There is hope. The Atchafalaya River stage has dropped from the 20-foot level at Butte La Rose to the point where it is forecast to be around 17.0 feet at noon Thursday.
“Hopefully, that comes down. It’s something to look forward to. When the water comes down, it quits pumping the river in the Bay,” he said. “We’re just waiting for the water to clear up and the salinity to come up.”
DON SHOOPMAN is outdoors editor of The Daily Iberian.