Bussey Brake update

The first thing fishermen have to learn is patience. And in some cases, it isn’t patience waiting on fish to bite, but waiting on a place to fish.

That’s been the case with the planned rebirth of the 2,200-acre Bussey Brake Reservoir. A project that was hoped to take three years back when it was announced in 2012 has now gone five years, and will stretch into six.

But, in the end, it will be worth it.

No one has had to muster more patience than Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Region 2 biologist Ryan Daniel in Monroe, who is overseeing the project. He would be the first to tell you that this entire project has been a challenge since LDWF received the property from International Paper Co. It was a new situation in the sense that they have never had full authority and responsibility over a water body of this size and it’s definitely been a learning experience. He probably wouldn’t say, but having to go through State procedures for all of the individual jobs and expenditures must have been frustrating and time consuming to say the least. The latest issue has been that the old pump broke down while pumping during the spring and it was not repairable. Pump, motor and the entire electrical system were obsolete and are being replaced.

But now, for the good side of the story.

“Most folks won’t recognize the “new” lake,” Ryan said. “We got nearly 3 feet of water across most of the lake bottom prior to the pump going down,” he said. “We’ve already stocked bass (adults and fingerlings) and bluegill. We’ll stock more next spring including crappie and shad. Bussey is a Wildlife Management Area now and is still officially closed  There are still  some details on rules (since it is a WMA) to hash out. We’ll probably open it up as soon as there is sufficient water to launch a boat. We’ll then begin construction on fishing piers and a dock at the ramp. We are considering some special regulations for Bussey, with the intention of providing something different or special for the public.”

Initially, plans are to keep the lake heavily populated with bass to suppress reproduction of undesirable species that may have survived the renovation or come in through the pump. There may have a reduced creel for bass and maybe a special regulation for crappie since the lake will likely receive a high amount of fishing pressure when opened. The habitat will be great for a while as a tremendous amount of vegetation and trees have grown on the lake bottom.

“At this time, I just want to tell everyone to just be patient and that they are going to have an exceptional fishery very soon,” he says.

I’m trying, Ryan! A lot of us old guys that grew up fishing that lake want another shot at the lake. I fished the lake with my parents on opening day way back in the 1960’s and can’t wait. Just to say I did it.

Through this process, one thing I’ve learned to appreciate is Ryan’s willingness to get information out and answer questions when we’ve asked. It wasn’t always easy reporting on “being behind”, but he has never wavered in moving the project ahead as fast as possible. Too many time folks in positions like his get mostly grief, so I’m taking a moment to say “thanks”. Thanks.

To read the original release about Bussey and other land donations at that time, here you go: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/news/36048


Former Bastrop resident Kinny Haddox is a regular contributor to several outdoors publications, including Louisiana Sportsman, BASSMasters and Outdoor Life. To visit his web site, log on to www.lakedarbonnelife.com.