On Nov. 5, 2012, I stood on the levee of Bussey Brake Reservoir with numerous elected officials, friends and former co-workers as the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries took over ownership of the 2,200 acre reservoir. Bussey is one of our all-time great fishing lakes. But over the years, it succumbed to trash fish, water quality issues, lack of good structure and just plain old-lake age.
The state announced detailed plans for the for the lake to be totally renovated and opened back for fishing in “3-4 years – hopefully by the end of 2016”. I realize that was optimistic, but I was hopeful. Unfortunately, when I rode by a few weeks ago, it didn’t look like that much had changed. I certainly didn’t see much water, which meant this optimistic LDWF statement from that day in 2012 wasn’t going to hold water: “By early 2016, LDWF hopes to have successful sampling to confirm the establishment of a healthy fish population.”
So that schedule is stuck in the shallows, but where exactly is the Bussey Project? I hope even with budget issues that the LDWF will once again make this a priority. Since LDWF funding is self-generated, it should not get caught up in the state’s budget nightmare.
I asked Rene LeBreton, LDWF Public Information Director for Fisheries for an update on the project this week and I thank him for his quick response:
“The project contains multiple components that are in various degrees of completion. The first component included drawing the lake down to the maximum extent possible. During this time the department completed necessary repairs to the outflow structure, repaired damage to the levee caused by feral hogs, repaired the debris barrier, repaired and upgraded the electrical components for the pump, installed a new electrical transformer and most importantly serviced the pump and completed a test run to ensure it is in working condition.
Secondly, the construction of the boat lane project had to be rebid due to the first bids received were significantly over budget. The contract was awarded and the contractor has been delayed due to the recent rain events but is scheduled to complete the project this spring/early summer.
Finally, the remaining components of the project include fishing piers, wave-break protection for the boat ramp, a mooring dock for boats, parking and boat ramp improvements. This is in the design phase and will be bid out with construction anticipated to begin in late summer with completion in late 2016.
As you can see, the renovation of Bussey Brake is a complex project that contains many individuals components. The refiling and stocking of the lake will depend upon the ability of the contractor to complete the major renovations this summer. Ideally we plan to initiate pumping in late 2016/early 2017. The stocking will occur once the water gets to a level that will allow the initial stocking and into the early spring depending upon the species. The timing of opening Bussey Brake for fishing has not been finalized.”
In other words, don’t buy any crickets just yet! As I said earlier, hopefully somebody will put some gas in this project’s tank.
PS — if you want to read some of the earlier Bussey articles on this website, simply click on these links.