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Lake life

The four-year drain is on

This is what many shallow areas of the lake look like during the quadrennial drawdown on D’Arbonne
Boaters have to be super careful in the lake with thousands of stumps, logs and other hazards, including shallow water boat lanes, coming into play during the D’Arbonne drawdown
A growing number of cormorants have a feeding frenzy on shad and gamefish when the lake is down five feet
And, the Pelicans enjoy fattening up for the winter on the lake’s fish as well
For many anglers, getting a boat in the water isn’t an easy chore during the drawdown. The lower number of fishermen has an impact on the lake’s economy every four years

The every-four-years-no-matter-what drawdown is on at Lake D’Arbonne. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) had earlier announced that the drawdown on the Union Parish lake would begin, September 8, but due to concerns over flooding in Hurricane Laura, which thankfully didn’t materialize, the lake drawdown is already underway.

The drawdown is supposed to take the lake down five feet below pool stage and continue until around November 15, depending on how well Mother Nature cooperates with the endeavor. The lake is supposed to be lowered approximately four inches per day. Tops of some stumps are already showing in areas where they weren’t just a week ago. Filling the lake back up in December and January also depends on Mother Nature. It usually isn’t a problem with the area’s huge watershed, but some years it is on up into spawning season for the fish before the lake actually gets near pool stage again. And rising water isn’t good for the spawn.

The lake is never closed to fishing during the drawdown and there are no tighter restrictions or limits, even though all the fish are basically moved into half the lake that remains. Caution is advised for boaters during the low water period, as boat lanes will not provide normal clearance for underwater obstructions, especially later in the drawdown. 

The drawdown is being done in coordination with the Bayou D’Arbonne Lake Watershed District, which we all call the Lake Commission, to allow for maintenance to shoreline properties and to provide control of nuisance aquatic vegetation. Drawdowns for this purpose have been scheduled to occur every four years and have been performed on this schedule since 2004.

It will probably never happen, but it would be nice to see the powers-that-be all sit down and actually re-evaluate the impact of drawdowns on the lake’s economy and fisheries resources and it’s regularity. Then a more informed decision could be made about whether to keep doing the same thing or to make improvements in the way this is handled. Fishing pressure is always high during the drawdowns and many anglers agree that a couple of years after the drawdowns, fishing seems to be down, then picks up just about in time for another drawdown. It’s also a sight to see standing on the shore and watching the growing numbers of migrating cormorants and pelicans feast on shad and gamefish as the fish are herded into smaller, shallower areas.

This will also be the first time that crappie anglers have been armed with the new Livescope technology which allows them to actually target individual large crappie. There’s nothing wrong with the technology, but as things change there, it seems like management efforts should react as well. Whether it impacts the lake’s fabulous slab crappie fishing or not will be left up to the luck of the draw. Or should we say, drawdown.

Discussion

One thought on “The four-year drain is on

  1. Drawdown needs to be every 8-10 years…it’s not a commercial/entertainment/skiing lake. It’s a FISHING lake…bass fishing just picked up this year from the last 3 and here we go again. Look at Claiborne and what they’re doing to Caney…trying to kill all the cover for the fish.
    Keep at least ONE lake a fishing lake?! I have fished D’arbonne 25 years and it’s much worse than it used to be. In 25 years I’ve NEVER been checked by or hardly see a game warden!
    Been checked multiple times at Claiborne. I just think it’s getting raped of fish daily and it’s not being policed enough…just my two cents.

    Posted by Keith Flournoy | September 7, 2020, 12:361:21 am

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