What did the flood leave us? For many unfortunate Mississippians, the devastation was total - a complete wipeout of homes and businesses. And, farmers, both row crop and aqua farmers, sustained millions of dollars worth of damage in lost crops or catfish stock that simply swam away with the flood waters.
Much recovery and cleanup work is in high gear, with people damaged by the flood trying to recover and get back to their normal lives and work. Again, for all who were displaced and devastated, lots of us are helping in ways that often go unreported. Thank you to the thousands of volunteers who donated money and sweat helping neighbors and, in some cases, complete strangers.
Mississippians have a long history of helping one another when times get tough. Mississippi sportsmen are often involved and take the lead in lending a hand where needed.
Specifically regarding damage and loss to some of our state's best fishing lakes, the most common concern raised has become the concern over pollution left behind by the floodwaters. For weeks, lakes like Bee, Wolf and Eagle have been closed because of potential damage to lakeside structures and banks caused from outboard motors.
We get that - that's an easy one to understand and to abide by recently enforced off-limit sanctions. None of us who love to fish these waters in a boat want to be the cause of additional damage.
But, that unseen, unknown and, to date, still unmeasured potential influx of pesticides, herbicides, poisons of all sorts, waste-water pollution and physical debris screams caution. Before the 2011 flood, many of the Deltas lakes already had cautionary signs posted telling of dangerous exposure to bad-news chemicals. Trust me, I don't want to eat any fish from any lake where that little yellow sign plainly says that eating too much of these polluted fish may make me sick or kill me.
At this writing I have heard no reports (because the lakes are off limits, remember) of people seeing or catching those lake-killing pests, Asian carp. Those flying fish you've seen on TV, mostly "up north" somewhere, will have found their way into some of our favorite crappie lakes, I'm pretty darn sure.
Have you ever experienced these things in action on the river or on some of our river-connected oxbows? If you have, you know why I am so worried that the flood may have been the springboard for these non-native fish to explode into lakes damaged by the flood.
We've heard it from our fishing cousins "up north" how devastating these damn things are. Once they get into a lake or stream, they populate faster than native species and eat algae and plankton at an unbelievable rate. That kills off the natural food chain and oxygen supply in our waters.
Little creatures and juvenile fish eat plankton. Bigger fish eat little fish. With all the plankton eaten by these flying silver (Asian) carp, there are no more baitfish and little prey critters left for the crappie and other natural species.
It's a nightmare.
Just last evening I was watching a fishing event they call the "Redneck Roundup" held somewhere in Illinois every year. People load into boats armed with dipnets and baseball bats. The winner is determined by which boat can bring the most dead flying carp back to the "weigh in." Actually, it's not a weigh in, it's a head count. More than 2,000 of these pests were rounded up on this one particular show and buried 6 feet deep by a bulldozer. Those Illinois folks have a serious problem. We could be looking at similar problems post-flood here in good ol' Mississippi.
Leaving the flood troubles for a while, let me report that the Magnolia Crappie Club has had one of our best tournament seasons ever. We've never had as many different people fish with us as we did during the 2010-11 regular tournament season, which began last October and concluded in June. We had a liberal guest rule this year, and, man, did we have lots of "guest" fishermen.
That's great! That was our intent - to introduce the sport of crappie-tournament fishing to as many new people as we could. Final count was well over 150 different people fished at least one MCC tournament this season.
Ahead of us is our annual Magnolia Crappie State Championship, originally scheduled for Wolf Lake, Sept. 16 and 17. We're officially on hold right now waiting to get the go-ahead from Yazoo officials and the Game and Fish people. It will certainly be understandable if we have to reschedule this big event for a different lake and date. Right now, we just don't know.
I can report that the 2010-11 Points Race champions for this season are Shelton Culpepper of Bay Springs and David Thornton of Eagle Lake. Shelton serves the club as our vice-president, and David has been our weighmaster for many years. Congratulations, gentlemen, and thank you for your service to the country's largest local crappie club.
One other additional MCC activity that I'd like to report is that we have decided to hold our second-annual Big Mama Open on Grenada - same site as last year - date to be announced soon. We had such a strong turnout at Grenada last fall at our first shot at this Big Mama Open that it was an easy decision to try for a repeat this year. I encourage you to check the crappie club's website (magnoliacrappieclub.com) for details of our upcoming events.
Hopefully, we can get back to catching 'em as big as they grow as soon as possible.