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Bayou Fountain — September 5, 2015


Bayou Fountain — September 5, 2015

Drainpipe Launch

I thought we were going to take Labor Day weekend off, but when Mike called Friday night and said he wanted to work a paddle trail maintenance expedition, well, who am I to refuse?

We met at Highland Road Park for the usual 8am start time and managed to find parking.  Apparently, we’re getting into cross country season, as the car and bus count in the parking lot was well above normal.  I jackknifed the trailer and unloaded the canoes, and then Mike parked right against the trailer.  Two cars and a canoe trailer within the lines for three spots is as small as we can be, so we figured that would have to do.  (Everyone’s always long gone before we’re loading canoes, so no problem.)

Runoff into the bayou.

The bayou was about as low as it was for the previous paddle, so over six feet of air below Rackley Bridge.  We noted the embedded trees and debris in the bottom at Archery Launch and said we’d plan to clear that up a bit sometime this cool season (since it won’t even require canoes).  Then it was on down the bayou.  At the hinged cover drainpipe not far downstream, I noted several small logs were stuck half through.  I figured I’d pull them out of the way, and so, I paddled over and grabbed the longest.  As it came free, suddenly something flew at me from behind!  What in the world?!?

Bass, I'm told.

Into my canoe launched a fish, which immediately commenced flapping around and being pretty much impossible to photograph.  I managed to put a couple fingers to him to still him momentarily for his glamour shot, and then I picked him up, set him back in the water, and away he swam.  So, to expand on the answer I’ve given to people who have asked about fishing in Bayou Fountain, there are gar everywhere, but apparently there are also some small bass (as I’m told this is).  Out of curiosity, would this mean that I can now say that, technically speaking, I am officially an accomplished bass fisherman?

The remains of Fort Fountain.

Continuing on down the bayou, we came to the second, larger powerline crossing which marked the beginning of the epic 65-yard logjam we cleared back when we were opening up the bayou.  When we worked it over those several weeks, we cleared the north side of the bayou and piled everything onto the top of the south side of the logjam, building what we nicknamed “Fort Fountain”.  Over the last few high/low water cycles, I’d noticed the the giant tree trunk that was the original cause of the old jam had finally cracked through.  The last high water must have taken it out, as now all that remains of fort fountain is a low branchy rise, with only the piece of the giant trunk on the bank remaining.

The oak at the end.

In spite of the washing away of Fort Fountain, no significant obstructions were present the rest of the way downstream.  A small log here and there, and some snagged branches, but not bad at all.  There was just a bit of work in the last half mile or so (once we left the shallows), and if anything complicated that, it was that the water was dead calm.  If you wanted something moved, you had to move it yourself.  (The small log in the center bottom of the photo above could have been anchored for all it was drifting.)

Canoe trail trail.

Having reached Bayou Manchac, which also had no current to speak of, we turned and headed back upstream.  For some reason, I can help but find it entertaining making paddle trails as your canoe slices through the green sheen on the surface always, and the still water near the end of Bayou Fountain made a decent canvas.

The way is clear.

We only found one rogue log that had somehow appeared since we passed heading downstream, but a few cuts took care of that.  As for the rest, even with the water so low, the way was clear.  We’re interested in seeing whether the passing of Fort Fountain temporarily increases the number of logs we find after heavy rains, but even if it throws a bit more work at us here and there, it was rather nice to see it all but gone.  We shouldn’t have any more major jams in that spot (although there are always new spots).

Hold up at Rackley Bridge.

As we neared the end of the day’s trip, Mike had to double-check the clearance at Rackley Bridge.  Apparently it was past “standing in a canoe” and close to his limit of “reaching up” — he had to change his grip on the paddle to make contact, so he said.  With the grass clippings from the previous week still helping the footing at Drainpipe Launch, the exit was not bad, and stacking two canoes on top of each other on the canoe dolly cut the number of trips back to the parking lot in half.  We were back on the road in no time and home in plenty of time for the LSU game…

(For the record, next time I’m on the bayou and I comment about wanting some rain to raise the water level, I’ll make a point to be more specific on timing!)

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