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Lake life

LDWF to explain Bussey plan

This look at Bussey Brake in 2017 shows a lot of new growth, but little water. The lake remains low today waiting on the completion of delayed construction projects, such as fishing piers and a windbreak to protect the main launch area.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will hold a public meeting to provide an update on the progress of renovations at Bussey Brake Wildlife Management Area Reservoir.

The meeting will be Tuesday, March 26 at 7 p.m. at the Bastrop Visitor’s Center on North Washington Street. Better get there early to get a seat.

Meeting topics will include work completed, status of current projects and future management goals for Bussey Brake. Following the presentation, the public will be provided with the opportunity to ask questions.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has been working to plan, organize and complete the Bussey Brake Wildlife Management Area renovation project in Morehouse Parish since it was donated to the agency almost seven years ago in 2012. Numerous “setbacks and delays” have caused concern among area sportsman who were told initially that the project should take 3-4 years to complete.

Despite the delays, LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet recently said the agency was committed to finishing the work.

“It is our goal to develop an outstanding recreational area in Morehouse Parish,” said LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet. “We have had to work through some setbacks that have stalled the project. But be assured, we will get it done.”

The good old days at Bussey… Harry Hawthorne, former Bastrop City Attorney, with a string of Bussey bass at the old Witherington’s Amoco station on North Washington. By the way, that’s where I used to buy 100 crickets, a bag of ice, two gallons of gas, a Dr. Pepper and a Mars bar for $1.00 on the way to Bussey. Mrs. Mary just put it on my tab…

Bussey Brake was constructed in the mid 1950s by International Paper to serve as an alternative water source for the Louisiana mill. It was a premier fishing spot in Louisiana, gaining national attention for its catches of bass, white perch, catfish and bream.

In 2012, International Paper spurned private offers to purchase the property in an effort to ensure this outdoor treasure would be preserved for public use by donating the 2,000-acre freshwater reservoir to the state. The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission established Bussey Brake Reservoir as a wildlife management area. At the same time, IP donated the 5,000 acre Wham Brake tract south of Swartz. Wham is one of the prime waterfowl areas in northeast Louisiana.

The Bastrop Daily Enterprise reported this in March 2017: “plans for reopening the lake call for a probable early 2018 reopening, but the process of restocking the lake has already begun. Just two weeks ago a supply of adult large mouthed bass was added to the lake. The 200 or so, five pound or larger brood stock should begin spawning soon, adding to the number , Another crop of bass will be added next year. Within the next month LDWF will add adult bream to the lake, with plans to add crappie in the spring or fall. Catfish and shad will also be added. Part of the activity completed since the lake has been drawn down was to try and eliminate “trash” fish such as carp, buffalo and gar. While some “trash” fish may be introduced from the bayou as the refilling takes place, the adult bass are expected to help control those numbers by feeding on them.”

There’s been a lot of bad news in Bastrop lately and hopefully, at this meeting, they’ll be some good news that this project is finally moving forward on a realistic timetable.

The Tuesday meeting is open to the public and all persons interested in the proposed conservation and management activities on the WMA are encouraged to attend. For additional information regarding this meeting, contact Ryan Daniel, LDWF Biologist Manager, at rdaniel@wlf.la.govor (318) 371-3066.

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