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Lake life

Bussey to reopen July 15

The much anticipated opening date of the Bussey Brake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Morehouse Parish has been determined. The newly renovated WMA will become available to the public on July 15 when the gates open at 6 a.m.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Inland Fisheries staff from Monroe have been working diligently on final preparations to re-open this unique area to the recreational users of Louisiana.

Following a lengthy renovation project, Bussey Brake will once again be available for fishing and other recreational activities. The 2,200-acre reservoir is the focal point of the WMA, which will be primarily managed for quality fishing.

The fish population, though not fully mature, is able to sustain fishing at this time. Special fishing regulations have been put in place on Bussey Brake to protect the young and expanding fishery, and to hopefully ensure a quality fishing experience for all anglers. These regulations are as follows: Black Bass: 5 daily with a 16-inch maximum length limit with the exception that one bass over 16 inches may be kept; Crappie: 25 daily with a 10- inch minimum length limit; Bream: 50 daily with no size restrictions; state regulations are in effect for all other species. All fishing gears other than rod-n-reel or cane pole are prohibited.

Renovations included restocking important game fish species, the addition of boat lanes, and upgrades to the property. The public will also be able to utilize eight miles of levee surrounding the reservoir for hiking, biking and horseback riding. The WMA features three fishing piers (including a new, Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible fishing pier), a wave break for those without boats to fish from, as well as a three-lane concrete ramp for launching boats. There will also be a site at the south entrance to drag kayaks or small boats over the levee.

Though the reservoir is not yet at full volume, LDWF officials have determined it can be safely utilized at the current water level. It may not reach pool stage (100 feet above mean sea level) until sometime next year. The boat launch will be open, and boaters will be able to safely navigate around the lake utilizing the marked boat lanes and the canals that were dug out to form the levee. Due to the lower water levels, the new boat mooring dock will not be available for use yet; instead, boats can be docked on the shoreline adjacent to the launch.

A valid state hunting/fishing license or Wild Louisiana Stamp is required to use WMAs. Anyone younger than 16 or older than 60 is exempt from this requirement.

There will be two parking areas on the WMA, both off of LA Hwy. 593 just northwest of Bastrop. The self-clearing permit station will be located at the north entrance, where the boat launch and fishing piers are located. The public will also be able to access Bayou Bartholomew, which forms the eastern boundary of the WMA.

LWDF reminds the public to help keep our WMAs clean, and please take all trash with you when leaving.

To view a recent article in the Louisiana Conservationist magazine about the Bussey Brake renovations, visit: http://laconservationist.wlf.la.gov/catching-a-brake.

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