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Lake life

Another fishing dimension?

“Imagine, if you will . . . You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension of sound, of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance. You’ve just crossed over into… “

Where? C’mon. You know the answer: The Twilight Zone.”

Okay, maybe a little dramatic, but here’s something coming up that nobody has ever had to think about before something so obvious that nobody wants to see it. This September, Lake D’Arbonne will undergo its ritualistic every-four-year drawdown. It must be carved in one of the huge pillars of the spillway that this must occur. Each time this happens, there’s always concern over the effects of the drawdown AND of overfishing when all the fish get put in a much smaller area. Talk is about all that happens, though.

Take a look at the video below. It’s a screen view of the LiveScope, a fishing tool that is owned and used efficiently by more people than you can imagine. Some people have this $4,000 worth of electronics on their $3,000 boat. I kid you not. But this is fairly new. Never has their been a drawdown crowding huge numbers of fish into maybe a third of the water they used to have. And here’s what the LifeScope does. You can see images of the fish underwater. Not just schools of fish. Individual fish. You can pick out the biggest one and drop your bait right on its nose. You can see your bait sink and see the fish swim up and eat it. If a fish sees your bait, it’s probably going to eat it. You’ve heard of catching fish in a barrel? Well here, take a look:

Here’s the the Twilight Zone effect. If D’Arbonne is down for four months and fish are confined to much smaller areas and fishermen can look down and see them, how many will get caught? The liberal limit in Louisiana is 50 per person, so three people in a boat can legally catch 150 a day. And with the price of food skyrocketing, well… Crappie already have more pressure on them — probably 10 times the pressure or more – than ever before. The same for bass. They say you can’t catch all the crappie out of a lake. I believe that. But consider this.

If you can target the two and three pound crappie and everybody’s catching them, how much damage can that do. It takes quite a few years to grow those big suckers (maybe 5-7 years or longer) and removing them by the washtub full is not a good thing. I’ve even talked to a couple of biologists who say this kind of “Twilight Zone” situation needs further discussion. Or prevention!

You can’t ban LiveScopes. At this point, we can’t change the limit. Only the state can do that and at “state action speed“, it would be time for another drawdown before that could get accomplished.

I’m not sure how much authority over any of this the Lake Commission has, but they might be able to do something during the drawdown if enough people asked them to. As far as I know, there have never been any special regulations during a drawdown to protect the fish except to say, “good luck”.

Maybe this will get a few more people thinking about what can be done to preserve and protect the lake while still meeting the fisherman’s needs. Maybe it won’t be a problem. That’s the easy approach. “Oh, this isn’t a big deal.” If it is, we won’t know for a couple of years until everyone starts wondering what happened. There are a lot of folks counting on D’Arbonne’s fisheries. We at least owe it to them to have some conversations and make sure we are doing the best things for the lake. Even if it means — Heaven forbid — we have to break the cycle of “we never did it that way before.”

I just know one thing. I hope this doesn’t become the story line for a new version of the fishing “Twilight Zone” in a couple of years when people start asking “what happened?” to all the slab crappie?

That would be a shame.


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