Fishermen have a field day in spillway

Fishermen have field day in Bonnet Carre Spillway

NORCO, LA (WVUE) - Fishermen were "limiting out" the beds of their pickup trucks Wednesday at the Bonnet Carre Spillway. With the gates are closed, it was time for anglers to move in, and most were doing better with nets than with a hook and line.

There's fishing, and then there's harvesting.

"I've been every time the spillway opens. The water comes through the fish run, we out here dipping," said fisherman Danny Bourgeois.

Dozens of fishermen were catching shad by the netload as the remaining fresh river water rushed out of the spillway toward Lake Pontchartrain. The fish were so plentiful no ice chest could handle it. Only the bed of a pickup truck would do.

"Getting a real good workout," said Bourgeois.

Eagles prowled nearby along with migratory white pelican looking for a feast.

"If you use DC, you can pulse that direct current," said Jack Killgore, with the Army Corps of Engineers research lab.  He and a team of fishers were working the spillway, on the hunt for rare pallid sturgeon, an endangered species.

"What they will do is drop the booms in the water, and start shocking," said Killgore.

The researchers went out in boats equipped with booms that shock the water with 200 volts. The voltage stuns the fish for capture, and a return back into the river, if it's the endangered sturgeon.

"Any type of federal operation that either harasses or harms or kills an invasive species, they have to address that," said Killgore.

While the Corps fishermen look for the sturgeon, the fishermen had something far more basic in mind. The shad aren't for eating, but will be used as bait for crawfish traps across the region, to lure in pounds of mudbugs for upcoming boils.

"Sell them for crab bait and crawfish  bait," said Bourgeois.

While Bourgeois loaded up three pickups with shad, the sturgeon is far more elusive. But the Corps is confident they are here after previous openings, and they are confident they will find them again as the river water continues to empty toward the lake, leaving fewer and fewer freshwater lagoons for the rare sturgeon to hide.

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