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Hurricane Isaac Damage Assessment

August 31, 2012

Editor's Note: As residents of southern Louisiana and Mississippi begin what will be a difficult, long-term cleanup in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac, Outdoor Life will continue to provide updates regarding the storm's impact on hunting, fishing and marsh erosion. The latest information will appear at the top of this post. Click here to see previous updates.

I was very much out of the big-picture loop yesterday as I spent most of the day on a boat riding through squalls to get to Hopedale, which is a popular launching point for many local anglers. We went as far as we could on the main road (still 8 miles or so from Hopedale), launched in what is normally a roadside ditch and, after some deft maneuvering from the commercial fisherman who was my hired captain for the day, we boated over the flooded road all the way into Hopedale.There were, of course, boats scattered everywhere, some remarkably unscathed and others driven by the wind and surge hundreds of yards into the marsh. Many camps were knocked off their spindly pilings; others appeared entirely intact. The water was still about 6 feet above normal, so the covered boat docks all looked like they were designed by and for the Seven Dwarfs. Fitting a boat under most was an impossibility.

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  • August 30, 2012

    Gulf Conservation Crisis: Hurricane Isaac Update-1


    UPDATE: "I am just coming up from Venice. They are letting people ride on the levee.
    The destruction from just south of the refinery to woodland is just like Katrina. There are tons of trash and dead cows/horses everywhere…

    Lighthouse looks fine. I didn't think to look at the villas but I will tomorrow or next day. My place did not do as bad as I expected. Back porch ripped off and some roof gone. Today we patched roof as best we could an jacked up an reattached porch. Going back up to get supply's now.
    Cell phone service working again down here. Marina doesn't look bad. Lots of sunk stuff. They are catching a bunch of redfish in the marina. And I mean a bunch! "
    --Captain Peace Marvel


    "Our power pooted out about 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday, so I spent the early hours of the day pulling out the generator and back-feeding the house so we would at least have lights and ceiling fans. And I hooked up a portable air conditioning unit in our bedroom, so we could sleep without sweating.

    Isaac has been amazing. We were expecting a bit of rain and some gusts, but nothing of note. What we got was LOTS of rain and persistent winds that knocked out power to almost half the population of the state. And it was just a Cat 1 storm. Of course, if it would have blown through quickly, the damage would have been minimal.

    One of the most-disconcerting aspects of the storm was that our cell service all but collapsed. None of us could even text with any regularity yesterday. Yes, I know that's how it used to be before cell phones were so prevalent, but it still made for a long day not knowing what was going on (we disconnected our landline last year).

    Even though we are still waiting on power to be restored, I feel I have a lifeline in my accessibility to information through the Web, email and — finally — cell phone. We have four magazines to put together in the next couple of weeks, but there remains no power at the office, so I'll start collecting as much information about the storm and it's impacts to the Louisiana coast for our Web and magazine coverage.

    It's going to be a long few days while everything gets sorted out.
    —Andy Crawford,

    "Jared and I will be headed out in the boat as soon as it's safe to do so (probably two days). We'll be looking to evaluate marsh conditions southeast of New Orleans down into lower Plaquemines Parish. Of particular interest will be the status of aquatic vegetation in the duck ponds. With all of the flooding, high winds and inundation of salt water, we expect to see a massive reduction of available feed as we approach the opening of Teal season on September 15th. We also have the recreational alligator season that was slated to start on September 8th. It remains to be seen when the season will open. The commercial alligator harvest season has already been pushed back, in anticipation of hazardous conditions and stress on the alligator population.. Another concern involves potential fish kills as we will likely see low dissolved oxygen levels in some back water areas.

    Plaquemines parish levees, as reported last night, were experiencing very high water levels which caught some by surprise because of the extremely low level in the river leading up to this storm.

    In Baton Rouge, it's blowing and raining like hell and we've got some tornado warnings. Storm is moving very slow, with very strong winds. Not what you want to hear. I told all the ducks and redfish they could evacuate to my house, but for some reason, they don't like the looks of all the cast iron pots hanging in my kitchen.

    I'll try to provide updates as we go along."
    — Ben Weber, National Wildlife Federation

    "I live on the same power grid as the major hospital in Jefferson Parish, so we seldom lose power. We were out for weeks after Katrina, but didn't lose it at all during Gustav. Most of the parish is out, but we still have it.

    The most-intense portion of the storm is battering us now, and has been since just before dawn. The storm slowed and wobbled as it made landfall near Grand Isle, and has stalled between Grand Isle and Houma. Residents outside the hurricane-protection levees in lower Plaquemines Parish are once again in their attics awaiting rescue. Fortunately, though, all of the hurricane-protection levees seem to be holding.

    We evacuated for Katrina, so I didn't get to witness the power of that giant as it moved through, but I can't imagine how things looked then. Isaac was a minimal hurricane according to the National Hurricane Center, but David Camardelle, mayor of the barrier-island town of Grand Isle, said he's never seen a storm this powerful, and he's ridden out a bunch of them down in his hometown.

    Here in Metairie, we're getting hit by squalls that are wrapping around the still well-defined eye. We're on the eastern side of the storm, which is always the worst side. We anglers always tend to overestimate wind strength, so I don't want to do that, but I'd guess the sustained winds in my neighborhood are in the 40s with gusts in the 70s. That doesn't sound like much compared to the 100+ we had with Katrina, but it's an intense visual experience. Tree limbs are rolling down the street, and smaller branches fly horizontally. Several have hit our house and sounded like mortar rounds.

    I hate to speculate as to the damage in Venice, but I can't imagine it's not extensive. I've seen some stills from Highway 23, and many of the power poles are down. I also saw a still of three buildings that looked like they had exploded; perhaps a small tornado swept across them.

    The marshes are going to be in rough shape. We suffered 20 years' worth of erosion during Katrina. I wouldn't expect this to be THAT bad, but the storm is just sitting here. We'll see how we look in the next few days. I'll let you all know what I find."
    —Todd Masson,

    "Shell Beach, which is outside the new seawalls, now looks to be underwater. The NOAA buoy shows water levels have reached 9.72 feet above mean lower low water — or more than 9 feet above the normal tidal range. So Hurricane Isaac's winds, estimated at 38 knots, have stacked up the waters of Lake Borgne to swamp this little fishing village east of New Orleans. Not sure what's happening in Delacroix to the south, but this area has some of the best saltwater fishing in Southeast Louisiana.

    Meanwhile, more than 6 1/2 feet of water has inundated the marshes at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

    Even though Isaac is a shade of its larger cousins like Katrina and Gustav, it's still packing a punch. And as these waters get sucked out after passing of Isaac, valuable marsh will be eroded."
    —Andy Crawford,

    "Our beloved Venice is in the eye wall now, and will sustain a direct hit from the storm. Because of the levee protection down there, my guess is that the most significant damage will be from wind rather than water. Wind damage is not good, but it beats water damage any day.

    Will update  as conditions change -- assuming, of course, we have power."
    —Todd Masson,

    "One of the biggest questions, with so much of the BP oil spill still out [in the Gulf] … is how much of that is going to get re-mobilized and pushed back into the marshes?"
    — David Muth, National Wildlife Federation

    It was just a month or so ago that the staff of Outdoor Life gathered in Buras, Louisiana to report on one of our country’s greatest, yet most profoundly threatened, fish and wildlife resources (see that coverage: Louisiana Delta: A Paradise Lost).

    As a hunting and fishing destination, Southern Louisiana stands alone. It is also this country’s most neglected resource. As we told you then, and as Hurricane Isaac is reaffirming now, Louisiana marshes are disappearing at an alarming rate. It will be several days until a full damage assessment from Isaac can be made—marsh erosion and saltwater intrusion. But as the hurricane is about to make landfall, within only miles of where Hurricane Katrina hit, we can bring some thoughts from our hunting and fishing friends who are down there, bracing for the storm right now...

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 30, 2012

    Fishing Tips: Scratch the Paint on Crankbaits -3


    Several decades ago I was fishing a backwater cove on the St. John’s River in Central Florida. The bite had turned to topwater and the fish were displaying an affinity for my well-worn, lucky Rapala 11G. As luck would have it, my partner and I were catching fish on almost every cast.
    Sadly, I hooked a really nice bass which ran me into the bulrushes and broke me off. After several minutes of digging around in the vegetation, I was unable to dredge up my favorite wobbler. Well, not to worry. I had several more squirreled away; fresh in their factory boxes and ready for action. After tying on a new Rapala, my bite went from hot to not. Seems something had changed drastically.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 28, 2012

    Fishing Basics: How to Hold a Spinning Rod-9


    After spending years working in a field specializing in the study of how human beings interact with machines, I’ve made a couple observations on the way most fishermen interact with their spinning combos. In particular, how the average angler holds a spinning rod.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 24, 2012

    Fish Kills: Mother Nature's Plague-2


    Fish kills are, in most cases, the result of reduced dissolved oxygen. However, fish kills can occur, with less frequency, from diseases and the occasional parasite infestation.

    Any number of factors can diminish dissolved oxygen levels. Typically, these include drought, algae blooms, overpopulation, and elevated water temperature. In many cases, a combination of these factors can negatively affect the fragile ecosystem.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 23, 2012

    Video: Shark Feeding Frenzy in New Jersey-1


    The guys from AngryFish.Tv captured this wild video in Ocean County, NJ on August 16th.

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  • August 22, 2012

    Fishing Gear: Columbia Power Drains-0


    My first “waders” were garbage bags wrapped with rubber bands to keep them up. They worked like a charm until the rubber bands cut off the circulation to my legs. My legs went numb and I dropped like toddler on his first pair of skates. I nearly drowned.
    Eventually I was able to afford my first real pair of waders and then I even got a real pair of fishing shoes. Those fancy-smancy pups came equipped with little fish embroidered on the tongue. Now let me tell you, if you’ve got fish embroidered on your shoes, your lunker haul will double just because you look like a pro angler.

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  • August 21, 2012

    The 3 Best Places to Catch Big Redfish this Fall-2


    In fall, attention to detail becomes critical for catching redfish. This is super badass redfish time, when the goal changes from the rats to the bulls, and fish upwards of 30, 40, and even 50 pounds will leave you crying for your mommy. So precisely how and where does one catch a stud redfish?

    Here’s a quick glimpse at a game plan.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 20, 2012

    Angler Lands 106-Pound Black Grouper, Potential Alabama State Record-1


    Mark Possien caught a record-breaking black grouper off the Alabama coast by slacking off.

    The construction supervisor was fishing in the Alabama Associated General Contractors Bonanza Days fishing tournament on August 11 when he hooked into monster fish. Mark said he knew it was a big fish the moment it hit the 60-pound test line. He also knew that the fish would head for the confines of the shipwreck Mark was fishing over if he didn’t do something creative.

    So he gave the fish some slack. 

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 14, 2012

    4 Reasons Why You Miss Fish-3


    Anglers whiff on fish for any number of reasons. In most instances, these miscues can be pared down to four common culprits. Master these and you’ll be less likely to be caught telling stories about the one that got away.
    #1 - Incorrect Line
    Each and every rod is designed and built to handle a specific weight (poundage) range of fishing lines and lures. This range is determined by mathematical modeling using guide type, guide placement, guide count, guide diameter, blank length, blank wall thickness, flexure, reel placement on the seat, butt length and style.
    Each blank is graded and stamped with the correct line and lure weight for that individual rod. These guidelines are provided to help the angler get the most performance out of the rod. Throwing the wrong line or lure weight results in shorter casts and considerably increased line fouling (backlashes and rat-nests) as line does not feed off the reel at the correct pace. Always match your line and lure to the recommended weight for the individual rod.

    [ Read Full Post ]
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