In addition to the Modern Fish Act, and two other major conservation and land access wins across the country this year, folks who’ve grown up fishing False River and battled for more than 20 years to restore False River can claim an equally heady victory.

Just before Christmas, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries took another step in its restoration plan for this 13-mile long Pointe Coupee Parish oxbow lake.

Problems began more than a generation ago when digging and dredging projects more than doubled the lake’s drainage area, its watershed. Despite guarantees that sediment traps would be in place, and tended, huge volumes of silt invaded both the north and south ends of the lake and reduced the lake’s carrying capacity for prized recreational fishing species.

As late as 30 years ago, False River was listed among the top five lakes in the country for the number of bass, sunfishes and other edible fish species living in its waters.

Some 10 years ago, fishermen banded together and enlisted the help of elected officials to identify the problems that had reduced the lake to a not-so-inviting fishing spot, and went to state Wildlife and Fisheries for help.

From that push, an initial watershed management plan was put in place in 2013, then as further problems and solutions were identified, an updated plan took over this year.

Local groups, elected officials and the LDWF worked with state agencies like Natural Resources, Environmental Quality, Health and Hospitals and Agriculture and Forestry and the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The first step in the new plan called for stocking some 4,800 black crappie and 4,600 bluegill from the LDWF’s Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery. And they were large fish: the crappie (sac-a-lait) averaged five inches long, and the bluegill four inches long. A second stocking came this week and a LDWF Inland Fisheries Section manager said plans call for continuous stocking efforts throughout 2019.

Other False River improvement projects noted from the LDWF’s plan include:

  • A 210-day dredging project on the north end flats — the end of the lake near New Roads and Ventress — beginning in mid-January with an estimated 94,500 cubic yards of sediment removed and pumped to an area adjacent to the lake.
  • Project plans include using “geotubes” to filter sediment lake water with “clean” water returned to the lake.

“The dredging work will increase average depths in the area, and boost available fisheries habitat. Additionally, removing the unconsolidated sediments will reduce turbidity and ultimately improve overall water quality,” the project report stated, adding project funding came from a push by Pointe Coupee’s state Rep. Major Thibaut and the False River Watershed Council.

Meetings

  • The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission’s January meeting has been moved to Jan. 8 from it’s original Jan. 3 date. The Jan. 8 meeting is set for 9:30 a.m. in the Joe Herring Room at LDWF headquarters on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge.
  • A public meeting to discuss the Queen Bess Island Restoration Project will be held at 9:30 a.m., Jan. 3 at LDWF headquarters for the Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group.

New Year’s wishes

Advocate Outdoors has been nearly void of editorial content this year, but 2019 is upon us with several items on the wish list for all the average Jims and Janes and their children living in our state and who want to enjoy the outdoors for them and generations to come.

  • A resolution to this “private” waters issue. It’s been offered for more than 20 years here, that one solution is to offer an option to landowners of these “private” canals: because these coastal canals have contributed to land loss in our state, the options are to fill in the canals and restore the lands to its original state, or to open the canals for fishing (not trespass) as long as the fishermen remain in boats.
  • At the risk of drawing the ire of the state’s oyster business during the holidays, a resolution to the problems of oysters and Louisiana’s need to restore our coastal marshes and barrier islands.
  • Hoping the Modern Fish Act brings sanity and balance to the issues of dealing with recreational fishing off our coast. It’s been more than a 20-year fight to get federal fisheries managers, including the federal fishery management councils, to break from the too-long-held notion that recreational fishing merely is a pastime and not the economic engine it is for our nation’s coastal states. It took a new administration in Washington, D.C. and Congressional action to break this stalemate, and, while it’s time to celebrate the MFA, it’s also time to hold the fishery managers accountable to this new mandate.
  • A prayer the state gets funding to help eradicate whatever little bug it is destroying the Roseau cane in areas around the lower Mississippi River. If you’ve been in the marshes and runs off the river south of New Orleans, then all that brown you see is where healthy, green cane was standing two years ago. After seeing it, a thought that burning the vast stands of affected can might help after migratory waterfowl have left for their spring and summer homes. Burning would kill the bugs and their eggs, but won’t kill the plant to the root, and it seems the cane would come back.