The first thing fishermen have to learn is patience. And in some cases, it isn’t patience waiting on fish to bite, but waiting on a place to fish.
That’s been the case with the planned rebirth of the 2,200 acre Bussey Brake Reservoir up north of Bastrop. A project that was hoped to take three years back when it was announced in 2012 has now gone five years, and will stretch into six.
But, in the end, it will be worth it.
No one has had to muster more patience than LDWF Region 2 biologist Ryan Daniel in
Monroe, who is overseeing the project. He would be the first to tell you that this entire project has been a challenge since LDWF received the property from IP. It was a new situation in the sense that they have never had full authority and responsibility over a waterbody of this size and it’s definitely been a learning experience. He probably wouldn’t say, but having to go through State procedures for all of the individual jobs and expenditures must have been frustrating and time consuming to say the least. The latest issue has been that the old pump broke down while pumping during the spring and it was not repairable. Pump, motor and the entire electrical system were obsolete and are being replaced.
But now, for the good side of the story.
“Most folks won’t recognize the “new” lake,” Ryan said. “We got nearly 3 ft. of water across most of the lake bottom prior to the pump going down,” he said. “We’ve already stocked bass (adults and fingerlings) and bluegill. We’ll stock more next spring including crappie and shad. Bussey is a Wildlife Management Area now and is still officially closed. There are still some details on rules (since it is a WMA) to hash out. We’ll probably open it up as soon as there is sufficient water to launch a boat. We’ll then begin construction on fishing piers and a dock at the ramp. We are considering some special regulations for Bussey, with the intention of providing something different or special for the public.”
Initially plans are to keep the lake heavily populated with bass to suppress reproduction of undesirable species that may have survived the renovation or come in through the pump. There may have a reduced creel for bass and maybe a special regulation for crappie since the lake will likely receive a high amount of fishing pressure when opened. The habitat will be great for a while as a tremendous amount of vegetation and trees have grown on the lake bottom.
“At this time, I just want to tell everyone to just be patient and that they are going to have an exceptional fishery very soon,” he says. I’m trying, Ryan! A lot of us old guys that grew up fishing that lake want another shot at the lake. I fished the lake with my parents on opening day way back in the 1960’s and can’t wait. Just to say I did it.
Through this process, one thing I’ve learned to appreciate is Ryan’s willingness to get information out and answer questions when we’ve asked. It wasn’t always easy reporting on “being behind”, but he has never wavered in moving the project ahead as fast as possible. Too many time folks in positions like his get mostly grief, so I’m taking a moment to say “thanks”. Thanks.
To read the original release about Bussey and other land donations at that time, here you go: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/news/36048
YEP – Bussy has a long history. I recall when the idea was first concealed by IP for a water source, back in the 1940s, during the land acquisition for the lake. There were several small farms that were acquired to build that lake and heard many stories relative to some of the farmers selling their land for this lake. I did get a few chances to fish there a few times when I came back to Bastrop for visits, back in its “HAY DAY.” I am happy that it is being rejuvenated as a prime fishing hole for all the people in Northern Louisiana and hopefully, I will get to fish there again, some day. Thanks to my good friend Alton Hull for the information.
My dad, me and my brother used to fish there all of the time, especially in the mid 60’s to ’71. That is when dad got paralyzed from the neck down and I was only 12. It was always fun since we camped on the Bayou Bartholomew side of the road and fished on the lake side in our 12′ boat and 5 hp. Wizard motor. 10 hp was the maximum you could use and the lake was safe in a small boat as for as wake from another boat. I hope this rule goes back in effect. The big boats can troll that fast….lol…… It didn’t matter what you was fishing for, because the fish was there and they would bite. We stocked up our freezer with the big fat channel cats using cow blood from Berry’s Farm up the road or Uncle Charley’s blood bait from the store. I would catch a limit of bass on the only bait I had which was a devils horse toothpick. Enjoyed seeing the buffalo herd before we got to the lake also. Didn’t get to go back to the lake after dad got hurt for 4 years but when I got my drivers license, I stuck that same 12 foot boat, rear first in the trunk of my ’64 ford Galaxy 500 4 door. Put the motor in the back floor board, fishing poles out the rear window and off we go. It was a funny site to see but I would pick the walk through gate I wanted to go through, slide my boat over the gate, and over the levy into the water and start catching fish. You do these things when you are young, strong, and love fishing in Bussey Brake more than playing with girls…..lol…….I also saw the lake go bad in the last 15 years eventually being overrun by catfish. I could bream fish with crickets and catch 9 little skinny catfish to one little bream. Many other things brought the lake down as well but THANK GOODNESS LDWF is in command now with high hopes of restoring the once great fishing lake to where it was in it’s prime. Can’t wait to dip my hook in it again !
Great piece, Kinny. Bussey was a project that my dad, Claude Houston, worked on as Stream Polution Control Supervisor for International Paper. Dad died in 1958, not getting to see it to completion. However, my brother, Lindy Houston was hired by IP in this same capacity and he saw it to completion. Bussey will always have a special place in our family’s hearts and minds. So happy that it being taken care of by the state. Thanks for writing about it. Z
Oh man I was so sad a few years back when I visited home from MO. I made a visit to Bussy Brake and found only a mud hole. I have so many great memories from fishing there. Camping on the bayou crossing the fence tire lining, running trot lines, whew and bass. Largest fish I ever caught was a 52lb Buffalo. And don’t forget seeing live buffalo roam that small pasture right before you got there. I hope I have the opportunity to make some memories with my grandkids.