The fish are already biting. The fishermen are already lining up at the boat ramp. And Friday morning, there was a ribbon cutting on one of the new piers to celebrate a big first 10 days and the opening of the newly renovated Bussey Brake Reservoir north of Bastrop. The attention Bussey is getting from the public and our elected leaders is great for Morehouse Parish.
Representatives of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries and International Paper, both past and present, were on hand to help with the celebration along with members of the local Louisiana Legislature. Senator Stewart Cathey, Jr. helped emcee the event. I was proud to help cut the ribbon with Senator Katrina Jackson. Senator Jay Morris and Representative Fred Jones were also on hand as were Sheriff Mike Tubbs, Bastrop Councilman and Bastrop-Morehouse Chamber of Commerce Board member Robert Shaw and other community leaders such as local businesswoman Robin Simmons. KNOE and KTVE televisions also covered the event. Mike Wood, former head of the LDWF Inland Fisheries Division in Baton Rouge also attended. Ryan Daniel, LDWF biologist from Monroe, oversaw the renovations to the lake and deserves special thanks for Bussey’s “new” look.
International Paper donated the reservoir to the state of Louisiana to be managed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The LDWF recently completed improvements to the lake and it’s open for business. If you fish there, make sure you follow the rules, regulations and special limits. It’s still two feet low, but the fish are raring to go as are the fishermen. Two ten pound bass and numerous nine pounders have been caught already in the first ten days. Most anglers are releasing the bigger fish to help keep Bussey keep getting better.
Senator Cathey told the group that the Bussey project was a great example of what can happen with citizens, government agencies, elected leaders and businesses work together as a team to get something done without worrying about who gets the credit.
Lee Pittman, representing International Paper Public Affairs, said it was great to see this reservoir again become a big part of Morehouse Parish.
“International Paper is proud to have been able to donate Bussey to the people of Louisiana so that the public can continue to enjoy it for years to come,” Pittman said. “It’s exciting to see people out here enjoying the lake with their families, catching fish and having such a good time. From what I understand, the fishing is already great and should only get better and better the next 3-5 years. That’s fantastic. It took a lot of people working together to make this happen. There were a lot of people with Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries and IP and our state legislature that paved the way for this to happen. It’s a win-win situation for everybody.
There are many improvements ahead for Bussey, including getting the reservoir completely full. But that may take some time, depending on rainfall and the water level of Bayou Bartholomew. There is also a group of local residents forming a Friends of Bussey Brake group that will be raising money and support for further developments at the lake. One of the first projects they are pursuing is a Kid’s Fishing Pier to enable parents to bring kids out to catch fish and learn to love the outdoors in a safe, easy to reach environment.
There are also plans to have a bigger celebration with more public involvement later this Fall after restrictions on public gatherings because of health concerns are lifted. In the meantime, Bussey continues to gather great publicity and public support as was shown Friday which will be a boost not only to community morale, but economic development as well.