If enough wind blows across Lake Pontchartrain from the southeast, water levels rise in Bayou Liberty. Although Camp Salmen is a good ten miles inland, our swamp can get a foot or more of clear water in it. Normally, the small pond next to the Swampwalk boardwalk is barely joined to the bayou, but now it and the surrounding swamp are a new water-world where fish from the bayou can freely come and go to hunt.

This is a fairly common circumstance and usually no problem, unless the water stays up too long then suddenly drops, like when the wind shifts to the north. This commences a three-stage tragedy.

Many of the fish are spread out in the swamp and can’t retreat back to the dropping bayou fast enough. The water has been steeping in the swamp for days and is now a brown organic tea that gathers in the pond. The bacteria love it and multiply insanely. When their sweet, short lives are over, their decomposition robs all the oxygen from the water, thus asphyxiating the fish. A hundred of them can litter the edge of the tiny, thousand square foot pond. Our normally tranquil boardwalk acquires a certain odor along this part.

This quirky hydrologic feature on the banks of the bayou has probably killed thousands and thousands of fish in the untold years since the bayou’s currents formed it. If the fish are hungry enough and the wind is right and the timing is right then its a sucker’s bet for the fish.