Let’s consider how we handle lake drawdown

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HERE’S THE POINT

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The upcoming four-year drawdown on Lake D’Arbonne is scheduled to begin September 8, and the question arises about being more proactive in managing the fisheries of this lake, rather than just crossing our fingers and hoping that everything works out fine.

Things have changed over the years. More people are fishing this lake than ever before. This spring saw a tenfold increase in fishing pressure due to the Covid19 pandemic. In addition, the number of fisherman who chase crappie all year long has increased probably by the same number. Now, there is also technology that allows fishermen to see fish, see their bait and even see fish swim up and hit their bait. Seeing them doesn’t guarantee they will bite, but it raises the odds considerably.

We don’t need to just keep doing things the way we’ve done them for 60 years. The lake has changed. People have changed. We need to manage the lake the best we can for the most people. Like it’s 2020, not 1986.

I’ve spoken with current Lake Commission President Jake Halley about this and he agrees; we have to adjust. This Commission has already shown the ability to be proactive.

Also, a serious look needs to be taken at limits on crappie and possibly other species. I’m not calling for a ban on LiveScope, but it suggests that LiveScope plus hundreds of fishermen using it, plus the fish being in a confined area could be trouble. You can’t ban technology, and you can’t stop crappie fishing. But, the technology, plus the regular increase in fishing pressure could harm the lake.

It takes five to seven years to grow a slab crappie. The biggest concern is catching too many of the huge slab crappie that make D’Arbonne one of the top 10 lakes in the country. LiveScope anglers don’t necessarily catch more fish than anyone else, but they are catching lots of big ones. If you catch all the two-and-a-half pounders, then the big ones will be two pounds.

Target those and get all of them and the big ones will be one and a half pounds. You get the picture. You probably can’t catch all the crappie in the lake if you try, but even biologists agree that you can really hurt the big fish population in an instance like this. We shouldn’t just sit by and watch that happen. Good fishing could bring millions in sales taxes and property taxes to Union Parish. We can either work to grow that, or we can watch it shrink.

Lake D’Arbonne is a treasure. It’s up to our leaders to protect that treasure and make sure it is around for future generations, just like it has been for us. The folks in charge (Lake Commission, Wildlife and Fisheries, Town of Farmerville, Police Jury, Tourist Commission, business owners, etc.) at least need to talk about it in some organized fashion. Before it’s too late.

Byron Avery is a Louisiana Tech Journalism graduate and serves as General Manager and Publisher for The Gazette.