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Lake life

Bussey Project underway

There’s a saw-horse on my carport that is home to a 1950ish blue and white  3-horse Lightwin Evinrude outboard motor. The old motor has a lever with four speeds: Stop / Slow / Start / Fast.  The motor hasn’t been run in 30 years, but as I recall,  the difference between stop and fast with it on the back of an old 14-foot aluminum boat was about three miles an hour on a calm day with a little tailwind. And yes, I was a bit smaller then.

But that old motor took me, my dad and dozens of other fishermen friends out across Bussey Brake Reservoir north of Bastrop too many times to remember.  The reason that’s important today, at least to me, is that Bussey Brake is about to get something most old lakes never get – A NEW LIFE!

Bussey Brake, a 2,600-acre fresh water reservoir, was constructed in the mid 1950’s by the local paper company and a few years after they closed mill and left town, it was donated to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.  LDWF plans for Bussey Brake include a complete renovation of the reservoir’s fish population.  The impoundment will be drained and allowed to dry completely.  The current fish population will be removed and the reservoir stocked with popular game fish including bass, bream, catfish and crappie. Once re-stocked, the reservoir will be monitored and managed with recreational fisheries a priority.  The renovation process will take three to five years to achieve success and the resulting fish population, once established, would self-sustain as a healthy fisheries for several decades.

LDWF Secretary Robert Barham and this website's publisher visit at the announcement of the Bussey Project last fall.

LDWF Secretary Robert Barham and I visit at the announcement of the Bussey Project last fall.

The Bussey Project is underway, according to Ryan Daniel, the LDWF biologist over the project.
Without being used any more, the lake had already dropped four feet from evaporation in July, and with the gates open, the lake is down almost seven feet from normal. If you know much about Bussey, you know that means ALL the shallow “water” is no longer water. The lake is still open for fishing, but it’s pretty tough to get anything out there to fish in unless you have a helicopter to drop your boat in one of the old sloughs or can walk real lightly in thick mud.

“We still need it down at least 2 more feet, Daniel said Friday.  “It appears there may be at least 1 stoplog remaining in control structure that will need removed.  Currently the lake is falling very slow.  I would guess by mid-October for maximum lowering, though not sure how much further we can get it down.”

Next spring they will survey the lake bottom, mark some boat runs, design fishing piers and construct windbreaks. The lake will then be closed and the remaining fish will have rotenone (a fish toxicant — that’s biology speak for poison) applied. Then they’ll start it all over, just like a brand new lake.

This the only lake in the state completely owned and now under the management of the LDWF. It will be a great project. It will be a one-of-a-kind effort, right here in our backyard. Pretty interesting. The lake will most likely be closed when construction projects begin next spring or summer. We’ll keep you up to date on what’s going on at the lake through this website. Stay tuned.

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