Be careful what you wish for: Floodwaters turn region into giant lake
Posted: Friday, May 6, 2011 12:11 pm
By: By Brent Callicott
I guess we needed to be careful what we wished for in asking for water for our area lakes and rivers as well as for the farmers.
Three major weather events have hit within several hundred miles from the Midwest (drought & wildfires), Mississippi Valley (flooding) and the south (tornadoes). Wow.
As you are certainly aware, we have had more than our share of rain in the last few weeks, which is much different than what we could say just six months ago, that’s for sure.
Just this year, so far, we have seen at least 36 inches, if not more rainfall in many places in West Tennessee.
There is no doubt, this latest heavy rainfall event that we had Saturday, Sunday and Monday will had a huge affect on all fishing, no matter where you may go.
Back last summer through this past mid-winter, the low water conditions on Reelfoot Lake offered a challenge to anyone who wanted to use a ramp to unload and load a boat.
That is not the case now. Now you may have trouble unloading and loading your boat simply due to too much water. This is the case with most every ramp on the entire Reelfoot Lake area.
Another problem is parking. Water is up in parking lots in some areas which has cut down on the amount of space allowed to park vehicles and boat trailers once the boat is ready to fish.
All my life, I have never seen a lake (Reelfoot) go from one extreme to another with water levels. On the other hand, I have seen lakes like the TVA Kentucky/Barkley Lakes Systems have high waters, but this is a area that sees this more often than Reelfoot Lake.
At mid-week, the normal level at Reelfoot Lake is 282.20 feet above sea level. Add the major rains, 8-plus inches in most areas in less than 48 hours this last week and with a lake that was already just above the normal level, this is — by far — the highest Reelfoot Lake has been in many years.
The lake was at 285.94 feet above sea level at mid-week, which is almost 3 1/2 feet above normal level, according to the USGS website. Absolutely unreal.
Reelfoot Lake is so close to the mighty Mississippi River, once the water table near the river gets high, this also has much to do with the lake levels in Reelfoot Lake as well. Right now, the Mississippi River is over its banks and then some.
We can only hope that once Mother Nature completes the flushing of water through this part of the United States, we will never see these type water levels again.
I want to ask everyone, no matter what body of water you are on, make sure that when you are using your boat/motor, that you only move at idle speed until you are far enough away that wave action created by a boat will not affect the flooded areas such as yards, homes, boat docks, piers and anything else that is not accustomed to high waters.
I continue to remind all of you to keep those who have been affected by both the flooding waters and devastating Tornados last week in your thoughts and daily prayers. They need that more than ever right now.
Talking about Reelfoot Lake, since Jan. 1st of this year, according to the USGS website, Reelfoot Lake has risen close to 5 feet. That is simply hard to believe. Right now, water levels are at least 3 1/2 feet above the normal lake levels and continues to rise.
Until the waters down stream start to drop, Reelfoot Lake will hold a very high water level.
Water temps are holding in the mid-60s.
Water color varies throughout the lake. Many of the ditches have current. It may not be that strong yet and this is due to the spillway ditch being bank full. The spillway ditch runs into the Mississippi River so it is full also. That means Reelfoot waters have nowhere to flow to except staying in the lake for several days at a high level.
Some folks around the Reelfoot Lake area have moved to higher grounds, reasons including a high lake and the being uneasy of the possible failure of the Mississippi River levee, which could pose more of a major problem for that entire area.
Fishing hasn’t been all that bad, depending on who you may talk with. I have had reports and seen pictures of good crappie catches as well as talking to some whose trip on the lake after crappie weren’t as successful.
The bass bite is decent which when the lake is this high, allows for all fish to venture into new territories in the lake waters.
As for catching bass, I would fish very shallow.
Catfishing should be good right now. The catfish bite was already good and now should be even better with the higher lake levels, especially fishing in the ditches where the current is present.
I want to also pass along that not only has the Mississippi River system seen records fall, including Reelfoot Lake, the Kentucky and Barkley lakes’ system overseen by the TVA folks has a few broken records themselves.
Mark it down a day for the history book at 1 p.m. April 30, 2011, Kentucky Lake broke the long-standing record. The lake was at 370.31’ at midnight and continued to rise. The previous record was 369.99’ set in 1984.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the lake level at Kentucky Lake had crested and started to fall. The new record looks to have been set at somewhere around 373.20 feet above sea level. That is 14 feet above the normal pool level of 359 feet above sea level.
On a much brighter note, I want to let everyone know that another local young angler is taking his skills to the collegiate levels.
Chance Williams, 18-year-old senior at Obion County Central High School and son of Jana and Taylor William of the Shawtown community, has signed a fishing scholarship with Bethel University in McKenzie.
Chance will make the second Obion County youth to sign with Bethel University, continuing his love for Bass fishing. Jake Lawrence is currently on the team and has done very well for the collegiate bass fishing team.
Chance is also a charter member of the Reelfoot Lake Junior Bass Club in Union City, which was formed by the adult Reelfoot Lake Bass Club several years ago.
Gordon Fox, longtime president of the Reelfoot Lake Bass Club said, “It has be an honor to be able to watch Chance learn and come up through the junior bass club ranks competing locally as well as statewide in competition. It is very exciting to know the Reelfoot Lake Adult Bass Club came up with a idea to start the Reelfoot Lake Junior Bass Club, not knowing that kids would be vaulting to the next level of bass fishing and getting a education at the same time.”
I personally want to wish Chance the best. I am so proud of you and you will represent Bethel in a great way.
BassMaster Elite Series Rookie Ben Parker is competing this week in the Pride of Georgia on West Point Lake in LaGrange Georgia, his 5th of 8 Elite Series bass tournaments this year. After the first day of competition, he is 10th place with 16 pounds, 4 ounces. Great start, Ben!
This event runs through Sunday. The full field of 99 anglers will fish on the first two days then the field will be cut down to the top 50 on Day 3 and then onto the top twelve for Day 4.
There is $100,000 up for grabs in this event along with important points that will go toward the Angler of the Year.
Currently, Ben is in 78th place overall out of 99 anglers on the tour.
I spoke with Ben — via text messaging — on Wednesday and he said he felt good about his chances in this tournament as he had located some bass during his pre-fishing time on West Point Lake.
After he fishes this week, he will then have three events left.
Good luck Ben.
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many first responders, county, city and state workers, as well as any military that might be helping in our historic flooding situation. This has affected everyone locally in one way or another and who knows what lies ahead.
If I can give any good advice, please use common sense when it comes to taking a chance or putting yourself in harm’s way. Think before you act. If you become stranded or do something that might cause you to need assistance, make sure it was an emergency. Putting others in a situations as for rescues or needing assistance is just a phone call away, but at the same time, these wonderful people are also putting themselves in harms ways as well that are there to assist you.
Please also put those who have been affected or might be affected by the flooding waters in and around this part of the country in your daily thoughts and prayers.
Til next week’s column...
Catch ya on
the water folks
Published in The Messenger 5.6.11