Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation volunteers helped the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (DWF) with the next stage of recovery for False River this spring, as they used their boats to distribute 6,000 Florida-strain fingerlings.
“This is just one phase of an ongoing rehabilitation project that includes spawning habitat improvements, dredging, island building, and minimal water level fluctuation,” said Alex Perret, state conservation director.
Mike Wood, director of Inland Fisheries, added, “This is what a lot of anglers have been waiting for, and we’re working for them. We’re stocking the lake with Florida-strain bass because they have the genetic potential to be larger-sized fish.”
Recovery began in 2012 with adoption of a plan by resource managers to address the decline of the oxbow fishery. Its ailments included silt buildup, diminished water quality, and overabundance of aquatic vegetation, with the loss of fish spawning and nursery habitat.
One of the first steps was to lift the ban on commercial fishing, in hopes of reducing the population of carp and other rough fish that have thrived in the degraded lake. Last fall, 60 tons of gravel was spread to create six spawning beds, each 30 feet wide and 4 inches deep.
“We did these in shallow parts of the lake so the sun can reach the bottom,” said Wood. “All of this is just a small part of a much bigger project. None of these things individually can fix the river on its own.”
Tommy Bryan, one of the fishermen from Twin Rivers Anglers who helped stock bass, added, “You can’t imagine the economic impact this lake will have on the community if it gets its quality back. There used to be dozens of boat launches all over the river. But when the fishing fell off, the boat launches sort of just went away.”
Next, DWF plans to build island terraces to reduce improve habitat, as they reduce runoff and turbidity.
“The siltation issues haven’t gone away,” Wood explained. “This is really going to have to be a long-term project, a compilation of a lot of different things to get a healthy False River.”
(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)