Bussey Lake, or Bussey Brake as it's locally known, is a 2200 acre body of water sitting in a cotton field in Morehouse Parish. Until recently, the lake was owned by International Paper Company which needed lake water for the paper manufacturing process.
The mill was shut down a few years ago and the water was no longer needed. In a benevolent gesture, the company donated the lake to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to be utilized by the public. The only problem is the lake is a "gar hole" literally.
Sport fishing in Bussey is virtually non-existent as the lake has been taken over by "trash" fish, mostly gar, buffalo and carp.
I visited the lake some 18 years ago to watch a couple of commercial fishermen, Rick Carter and his dad, working under contract to use nets to remove some of the trash fish from the lake. When they motored up to the dock, the boat was literally overflowing with carp and buffalo.
Now that LDWF has taken ownership of Bussey, what will happen to all those undesirable species of fish that have taken over the lake?
"We're going to remove them by draining the lake and chemically treating those deeper areas that will be left after the lake is dewatered," said Mike Wood, Inland Fisheries Director for the Department.
The lake bottom has some deep holes which resulted from removing dirt to construct the dam around the lake. Some 50 acres of the 2200 acre lake will continue to hold water but fish that remain in these deeper areas will be taken care of by the use of chemicals.
"Our goal is to bring this lake back as the fishery it once was before the carp and buffalo took over.
"To do that, we're going to wipe the slate clean by draining the lake, getting rid of everything in there and starting over with bass, crappie, bream, catfish along with forage fish for the sport fish to feed on."
Obviously, it will be a big mess for awhile, and Wood admits as much. However, the time of year slated for the draw-down will mean the stink and mess will be short-lived.
"We plan to draw the water down in summer and while it'll be stinky for a week or so, fish decompose quickly in hot weather with the added benefit of returning nutrients to the eco-system which will help the new fishery. There are no lake-side property owners to have to endure the smell so this won't be a problem.
"Right now, we're finishing up all the legal stuff in transferring the property from International Paper Co. to our agency and once all the 't's' are crossed and the 'i's' dotted, we'll be ready to go to work," Wood said.
"We plan to so some pier and boat launch work that will help the fishermen access the lake once everything is done."
Wood noted that the entire process from draining the lake, getting rid of all the trash fish, doing the necessary shoreline work, filling the lake again and starting the re-stocking program will likely take place over and three to five year period.
"When we get through," Wood declared, "Bussey will be something we can all be proud of."
Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.