The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has been renovating Bussey Brake since 2013, and on Tuesday, March 26, LDWF Region two biologist Ryan Daniel gave an update on the project at the Visitor’s Center in Bastrop.
Daniels started by noting how the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is very excited about the project.
He explained that the purpose of the meeting was to explain the ongoing and future renovations.
International Paper donated Bussey Brake to the LDWF in 2013, and at that time they began planning the renovations to make the area better.
“Our goal is to make Bussey a quality recreational fishery and ultimately a recreational destination,” Explained Daniel. “We’d like to see people come from outside the parish and hopefully spend money.”
Their goals included improving the sportfish habitat, removing trash fish, increasing public access, building boat lanes, and creating an angler-friendly environment. They also plan to construct wave-breaks and piers.
The lake was drained first, and in Fall 2016 they began the process of building boat lanes.
“We built boat lanes on both sides of the lake,” noted Daniel.
The LDWF built a north to south boat lane which is 2.3 miles long and 60 feet wide. They also built a shoreline boat lane. Shallow areas were dredged along the shoreline for safe boating and the dredge materials were used to make islands mid-lake and on the east and west sides.
“You can get from the north to the south end of the lake as fast as your boat can take you,” said Daniel.
Daniel stated that in summer of 2016 they began killing the trash fish.
“We knew there were a lot of trash fish that were limiting the growth of sportfish,” explained Daniel.
Daniel said the LDWF believes they got a pretty effective kill.
In 2017 they began restocking with croppy, brim, and bass purchased mainly from the Booker-Fowler Hatchery. Daniel noted they are going to continue restocking as long as they feel it is necessary.
They began working on improving the pumping station and had it running for about two weeks when it quit working. They are replacing it, and Daniel revealed that they released a contract for a new pumping system two weeks ago.
Another planned project is to replace the old piers and build a boat dock. They plan to break ground on the pier and wave-break project soon.
Daniel discussed the fact that when Bussey was first drained it was full of little stumps and seen as an unfavorable environment for fish, but in 2016 there was new growth on the lake. The LDWF hopes some of the trees that have grown will survive.
Hog control is also an ongoing project as they have been a problem around Bussey Break. They are doing hog tracking and trying to get rid of them.
“The hogs have moved in and found something on the levy they like to eat,” explained Daniel.
Daniel wrapped up by stating that so far they have renovated the fisheries, constructed boat lanes, improved the control structure and pump stations, and are restocking the fish. He noted that on-going projects include pump replacement, constructing a wave-break, and increasing public access. They plan to refill the lake as soon as possible.
“Hopefully we will have a dry spring, finish the projects by mid-summer, start pumping water, and get it re-opened as soon as possible,” Daniel said.
After the presentations the audience was allowed to ask questions. A question was asked about entry fees, and Daniel stated entry would be free. He also answered questions about speed limits noting no speed limit or motor size restrictions would be in place.
One question several attendees had was about restrooms. Daniel explained that there would be no restrooms as there is not enough funding for the needed maintenance.
Daniel assured the audience that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is committed to sticking with the management of Bussey for as long as possible.
The city of Bastrop is thankful to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Ryan Daniel for giving an update on Bussey Brake to the community and looks forward to its eventual reopening.