We’ve been anticipating the opening of the renewed Bussey Brake for years and especially this spring as rainwater and pumping by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has almost got the lake up to the level that was wanted before opening.
Here’s the latest. The bayou has fallen too low to continue pumping, but the lake is safe enough for boaters. The LDWF is working on a few last-minute adjustments, including trying to put up a temporary step that will allow boaters to reach the mooring dock that was built for them to tie up to and unload from. The level has left the pier a little too high out of the water.
But the word is: “Soon”.
We’ll be glad to see it and it will be an anxiously anticipated opening. In case you haven’t been keeping up,
here’s a bit of info on the “new” Bussey:
Fish stocking has been conducted since early 2017, including 300 adult Florida bass. Multiple stockings of both Florida and northern largemouth bass fingerlings, redear sunfish, bluegill, black and white crappie, threadfin shad have been done. Stocking will be continued as long as necessary.
There is a brand new boat pier beside the launching ramp to allow anglers to tie up their boats while loading and unloading. There is also a new handicap accessible fishing pier at the main boat dock area. Importantly for boaters, there is an earthen wave break constructed out from the ramp that will protect the launch area from big waves, which was a problem in years past.
Much of the lake has grown up in new growth, including grasses, cypress trees and other bushes that will provide excellent cover to protect the fisheries food chain. One of the problems with the “old” Bussey besides trash fish is that most of the lake’s fish-friendly structure had rotted, silted in or otherwise disappeared over time.
Boat lanes have been constructed on both the east and west sides of the lake, with spoil banks created in some areas to improve the aesthetics of the area, help mark the lanes and provide additional fish habitat. There is no large standing timber in the lake.
The new electric pump that is being used to fill the reservoir was installed in late 2019.
It’s important to note who is paying for this project. International Paper donated the property, valued at more than $4 million dollars eight years ago. The majority of funds for the projects have come from the federal Sport Fish Restoration program, which is funded by special taxes and license fees paid for sportsmen.
Bussey has also been deemed a Wildlife Management Area, operated by the LDWF Fisheries Division. Daniels said the LDWF is planning to develop and enact some special limits and possibly some size limits for the lake, especially while it is new. That way they can ensure they start out with and maintain a high quality fishery. There will also be WMA specific regulations for fishing the lake, so anglers to fish it when it is open need to pay attention to those.
Leaders of the Bastrop community are hoping that the reopening of the lake will be a boost to the area’s economy, similar to what it was back in the 1960’s. A printed report about opening day on the lake back then showed 446 fishermen were checked with 4,400 fish brought in to the main dock. Results for the first year the lake was opened indicated that 60,000 fishermen visited the lake, spend 220,000 man hours and caught over 200,000 pounds of fish. Resident fishing licenses in the parish increased from 1,700 the previous yeear to 2,700 the year the lake opened.
It was also reported by one sporting goods store that “24,000 shiners, 38,000 crickets, 500 boxes of redworms and more than three thousand artificial lures” were sold during the first week of Bussey’s opening in 1960. In those days, no outboards were allowed, only electric trolling motors.
When the lake is finally reopened, there will be no duck hunting for the time being. It will be open for fishing 24 hours a day, seven days a week and there will be no restrictions on boat or motor sizes. No ATV’s or jet skis will be allowed and there is no camping allowed at this time.