Images from the last six months are clear: Toledo Bend is in trouble.
Except for the Red River, so are other lakes and reservoirs in Louisiana’s northern and western parishes, and popular fishing destinations like Lake Conroe and Sam Rayburn Lake in eastern Texas.
A months-long drought has lowered water levels by as much as 10 feet. That’s forced closures of boat launches and landings on Toledo Bend and the two Texas reservoirs.
Through Friday, Toledo Bend’s level is 161.77 feet above mean sea level, or more than 10 feet below pool stage.
The Sabine River Authority’s website (http://www.srala-toledo.com/) indicates 14 of the 27 landings on the Louisiana side are closed.
• North and South Toledo Bend state parks.
• Esto, Kites and Sepulvado’s landings.
• Griffin’s and Wildwood lodges.
• Sunset and Pendleton Bridge marinas.
• Bridge Bay Resort.
• Southern Leisure.
• Jolly Rogers.
• Blue Lake Launch.
• Converse Bay.
Launching without barges that provide docking access is available at San Miguel Park, the Driftwood and Bass Haven Resort.
Open launches are:
• Cypress Bend, Oak Ridge and Pleasure Point parks.
• Toledo Bend Resort.
• Buckeye and Lanan landings.
• Big Bass Marina.
• Tranquility Bay.
• Pirates Cove.
• Turtle Beach.
As many as 10 of these might have to close when water levels reach the 160-foot mark.
“We’ve been able to fish, but only because we’re carrying a flatboat and a 25-horse (power) engine about 50 yards out to the water’s edge,” Sammy Watson said from his home between Many and Zwolle.
“My brother and I love to fish and so do our kids, and we tried to make the most of the lake during the summer,” he said. “But with the kids in school, I think we’ve made our last trip for the next few weeks.
“It’s hot,” Watson said. “The water is hot, and we’re going to wait for it to cool off before we go back on the lake.”
Watson said the 16-foot bateaus have made it easier to get around in low-water conditions. He added that fishermen in larger bass boats have had problems running into submerged trees and other objects that during normal water levels would be far under the water’s surface.
The SRA’s advisory recommends, “boaters to use extreme caution in all boat lanes.”
Branch’s new deal
The South Louisiana Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association is taking membership banquets to a new level.
The QDMA Reach Gun Bash is Aug. 31 at Drusilla Place in Baton Rouge. The group will limit ticket sales to 300, have no ear-splitting live auctions and guarantee that a sellout will result in 1 in 10 attending will leave with a raffled gun or rifle.
Tickets are $100 for individuals to $400 sponsors to $800 tables with various bonuses, including entries in the gun raffle.
William Shockey is event chairman. Call Shockey (225) 291-7500 or branch president Sandy Comeaux (225) 931-8700 for information or for tickets.
Cory R. Ronsonet, of New Iberia, pled guilty Wednesday to the illegally taking a black bear.
The 39-year-old man was arrested May 19, more than two years after the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ agents began investigating a tip that a black bear had been shot, skinned and “stored in a fashion to mount it in the future.”
On May 19, the LDWF reported that agents found a black bear skin and its decapitated head off Daniel Lane near a New Iberia subdivision. On May 31, the LDWF report stated Ronsonet admitted to taking the black bear.
Ronsonet entered the guilty plea in Federal Western District Court in Lafayette and awaits sentencing.
He faces fines up to $100,000 and up to one-year imprisonment.