Big Lake

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
19,231 Acres


Size, Location and History

Big Lake Wildlife Management Area consists of 19,231 acres located 12 miles east of Gilbert, La. The eastern boundary of Big Lake WMA is contiguous with a portion of the western boundary of Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge, together these areas form one of the largest remaining tracts of the vast bottomland hardwood forests that historically composed the lower Mississippi River floodplain from lower Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico. Major access routes to Big Lake WMA are Louisiana Highways 4 and 610. The area was purchased by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries through the Rockefeller Fund in three components between 1983 and 1985; 9,833 acres 1983, 4,888 acres 1984, and 4,510 acres 1985.

Description of Landscape:

The topography is flat with some ridges and generally poorly drained, terrain varies from 55-65 feet M.S.L. Seasonal flooding occurs dependent on water levels within the Tensas River, but periodic flooding may occur anytime after periods of heavy rainfall. Abandoned and active mineral exploration and production sites, roadways, pipelines, and open-water lakes, sloughs, and bayous provide diversity throughout the area. Seven small lakes and six small bayous, approximately 200 acres and 25 miles of waterways, respectively, can be found on the area.

Most of the forested component of the area consists of relatively closed overstory canopy with a fairly dense understory. Major timber species are Nuttall oak, water oak, willow oak, overcup oak, American elm, sweetgum, bitter pecan, honey locust, sugarberry, willow, sycamore, persimmon, cedar elm, red maple, box elder, and cypress. Understory species include rattan, Rubus sp., Crataegus sp., swamp dogwood, Vitis sp., deciduous holly, elderberry, Smilax sp., baccharis, switchcane, poison ivy, and many herbaceous species. Invasive species include trifoliate orange, water hyacinth, and several other nuisance aquatics.

The most popular game species are white-tailed deer, squirrels/rabbits, and turkey. Limited waterfowl and woodcock hunting opportunities are also available. Freshwater fish including largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish, and catfish are popular with area users.

Big Lake WMA along with Tensas National Wildlife Refuge is home to a thriving population of Louisiana Black Bear. Reported sightings, nuisance complaints of adjacent landowners, and vehicle collisions are steadily increasing and Black Bear research on this entire area is ongoing.

Big Lake WMA is visited by many neo-tropical bird species annually and home to large numbers of passerine birds. This area is recognized by the American Bird Conservancy as an important site. Bald eagles and osprey are observed regularly.

Public Use:

The largest user group of this area is deer hunters. The Department maintains a system of all-weather gravel roads and numerous ATV trails that provide access to area users. Several walking trails follow pipelines rights-of-way. Boat launches are available on most area lakes. Four permit stations located at major entrances to the area are provided to meet self-clearance requirements. No public camping areas are available on Big Lake WMA, campsites are available to the public for a fee on adjacent private property. The one mile Trusler Lake Hiking Trail is located in the interior of the area.

Other Public Use:

Please refer to the WMA rules and regulations for permitted activities. In addition to hunting, trapping, and fishing other common activities include boating, commercial fishing, hiking, birdwatching/sightseeing, horseback riding, berry picking, frogging, raccoon field trials, and crayfishing. A recreational lottery for alligators is allowed each year also.

Additional information may be obtained from LDWF, 368 CenturyLink Drive, Monroe, LA 71203. Phone (318) 343-4044.


BIG LAKE (Department Owned - 19,231 Acres, Monroe Office)



State of Louisiana, USACOE
27,962 Acres
(337) 948-0255

Attakapas Wildlife Management Area, located in upper St. Mary Parish and in parts of lower St. Martin and Iberia Parishes, was acquired in 1976. The center of the area is situated about 20 miles NW of Morgan City and 10 miles NE of Franklin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns a small tract of land that is also managed by La. Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Access to the 27,962 acre tract is by boat only, with major public launches available: (1) Millet Point, at St. Mary Parish Road 123, off of Hwy 87, (2) NNE of Charenton Of Hwy 326, (3) above Morgan City on Hwy 70, (4) off Hwy. 75 at Bayou Pigeon landing in Iberville Parish.

The terrain is characterized by flat swampland subject to periodic flooding and siltation from the Atchafalaya River. Areas adjacent to the River and spoil banks from dredging activities provide upland habitat and refuge areas during periods of high water. Many pockets in the management area have silted in and will continue to increase the land-to-water ratio.

The main overhead vegetation in the swamp is cypress and tupelo with some oak, maple and hackberry growing in the upland areas. Black willow is prevalent on the newly deposited lands, which are prevalent throughout the management area. Understory vegetation in upland tracts includes blackberry, deciduous holly, elderbery, and goldenrod. Greenbriars, peppervine, pokeweed, palmetto and switch cane. Common swamp plants are lizard tail, alligator weed, smartweed, coontail, pennywort and water hyacinth. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew caused wide scale destruction to the trees on Attakapas. The Department reforested many of the higher areas along the Atchafalaya River with cypress, ash, elm, water oak, nuttall oak, cherrybark oak, cow oak and other upland species. Also, roughly 30 miles of trails have been created and maintained around these reforested plots on the east and west sides of the Atchafalaya River.

Game animals most hunted on the management area are deer, rabbits and squirrels. Waterfowl hunting is also popular. Other animals present are beaver, nutria, otter, mink, muskrat, raccoon, bobcat, opossum, and alligator. Trapping is allowed for furbearing animals. Hawks, owls, shorebirds, and neo-tropical migrants are also present.

Crawfish, found throughout the spillway, provide commercial and recreational opportunities. Major fish caught in the area include catfish, mullet, bass, bluegill, gar, bowfin, and freshwater drum.

The self-clearing permit is required for hunters only. There are three primitive, remote camping areas on Attakapas. There is one camping area with picnic tables and running water located on St. Mary Parish Road 123 near Millet Point. Additional information may be obtained may be obtained from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, 5652 Hwy 182, Opelousas, Louisiana 70570.

Atchafalaya Delta

State of Louisiana
137,695 Acres

The Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area is a 137,695-acre area located at the mouths of the Atchafalaya River and the Wax Lake Outlet in St. Mary Parish. The area is located some 25 miles south of the towns of Morgan City and Calumet and is accessible only by boat.

Most of the area consists of open water in Atchafalaya Bay. Within the Bay, two deltas (the Main Delta and the Wax Lake Delta) have formed from the accretion of sediments from the Atchafalaya River and from the deposition of dredged material by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Only about 27,000 acres are vegetated on these deltas. About 15,000 acres of marsh and scrubby habitat occur on the Main Delta, and about 12,000 acres of marsh occur on the Wax Lake Delta.

Hunting on the Delta is primarily for waterfowl, deer, and rabbit. Deer hunting on the Main Delta (deer hunting on the Wax Lake Delta is not permitted) is restricted to archery hunting by adults and youth lottery gun hunts. Harvest per unit effort on deer is extremely high. Fur trapping, commercial fishing, recreational fishing (especially for redfish, catfish, bass, and bluegill) and alligator harvests also yield great returns. Non-consumptive recreational pursuits include boating, camping, and bird-watching, especially on the Main Delta.

The area has two campground areas (with primitive restrooms) and has a number of pilings available for houseboat mooring.  Overnight mooring is allowed via permit only (16-day permits or hunting season permits).  Year-round mooring is prohibited.  LDWF offers both lease and lottery opportunities.  Contact LDWF New Iberia Office for more details at 337-373-0032.

Unwanted Vegetation

Aquatic plant life is desirable in aquatic habitats. One-celled aquatic plants (algae) are the basis of the food chain and supply oxygen to the aquatic system. Larger plants offer shelter and breeding habitat for many aquatic organisms. A balance between plants and other aquatic life is therefore beneficial.

When aquatic plants begin to flourish and affect human activities negatively, these plants are referred to as "weeds." The "weed" determination may be based on the location in which the plants are growing such as boating lanes or around boat docks. Problems also arise when the aquatic plants interfere with the intended use of the body of water such as swimming, skiing or fishing.

Most problems are caused by introducing exotic species which have no natural controls to keep growth in check. Without these natural control mechanisms, the plants quickly replace native vegetation. Exotic species that have become problems are giant salvinia, common salvinia, water hyacinth, alligatorweed and hydrilla.

Factors Affecting Control

Environmentally sound and cost-effective management decisions should be the basis of any aquatic weed control program. Plant identification is critical because control methods are usually species specific. All control measures will affect the environment, so it is important to consider the intended use of the water body. Physical constraints such as shallow water or obstacles can impair herbicide applications. Water quality variables such as total alkalinity or the possibility of dissolved oxygen depletions are important considerations. Potential impacts on fish and wildlife populations must also be considered.

Pond Construction

Prevention is the easiest and most economical method to control aquatic weeds. Proper site selection is the first step in preventing aquatic weed problems. Sites should be selected that minimize erosion, nutrient enrichment from runoff and high water flows through the pond. Avoid using a flowing stream as a water source because the continuous flushing creates clear water and causes low contact times for herbicides and fertilizers. Maintain proper watershed-to-pond ratios. Limit livestock usage in the watershed to lessen erosion and levee destruction. Pond banks should be as steep as possible without causing excessive sloughing. Inside levee slopes should drop 1 foot for every 3 feet the slope extends into the water. Avoid areas shallower than 3 feet deep to minimize excessive weed growth. Encourage grass species along banks such as Bermuda and rye.

Preventive Fertilization

Fertilization provides nutrients for algal growth, which reduces light penetration below the level required for submerged plant growth. Once fertilization has begun, you must continue the program to prevent adverse effects on fish populations. Do not start a fertilization program until the current weed infestation is controlled. The plants you are trying to control will use the nutrients and increase their growth. Liquid fertilizers are preferred because they give faster results.


Drawdown is limited to lakes and ponds with adequate water control structures and a reliable source of water for refilling the pond. Drawdowns are usually conducted during winter to expose plants to drying and freezing. The advantages include low cost as well as oxidation and consolidation of sediment. Drawdowns also increase options for chemical control because some chemicals are more effective when applied to dry water bottoms. One disadvantage of drawdowns is that they may reduce desirable species and allow tolerant species to spread further. There may also be some loss of recreational benefits such as duck hunting and spring fishing.

Mechanical Control

Physical harvesting by hand or equipment can be effective at removing small populations of nuisance weeds such as duckweed, cattail and water hyacinth. This can be accomplished with various methods such as dip nets, sickles or blades, and by placing barriers across incoming streams to restrict floating plants. The main advantages to mechanical control are low cost and low environmental impact.

Biological Control

There have been many attempts to control aquatic plants with biological control methods. These include pathogens, insects and herbivorous fish. For the average pond owner, the use of herbivorous fish like triploid grass carp is the only biological control method available. Triploid grass carp are functionally sterile, meaning they cannot reproduce in ponds. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has developed a permit to allow farm pond owners to use these fish to control vegetation.

The number of grass carp that should be stocked depends on the type of weed, condition of the ponds and severity of the weed problem. Triploid grass carp prefer submerged plants, but some emergent species are also controlled. Some recommendations for stocking rates are given in the next column.

Recommended Stocking Rates for Triploid Grass Carp

Weed Evaluation
Number of Fish to Stock per Acre

New pond or very slight weed problem

Moderate weed problem (10 to 20 percent coverage)
10 to 15

Severe weed problem
5 to 20 or more


Chemical Control

About 200 herbicides are registered in the United States, but only 10 are labeled for aquatic sites. These chemicals can control aquatic weeds effectively. However, correct weed identification and matching the proper herbicide to the particular weed problem are extremely important.

Aquatic plants which are usually considered problems are divided into four groups: algae, floating, submersed and immersed weeds. Algae are small, usually microscopic plants lacking leaves, roots and stems. These plants may be made up of only one cell, an aggregate of cells called a colony, or a chain of cells called a filament. Algae may grow freely suspended in the water (plankton), floating at the water surface (pond scum) or attached or unattached on the bottom. Free-floating weeds such as duckweed and water hyacinth have leaves and stems above the surface and roots that suspend in the water below.

Submersed weeds are usually rooted at the bottom and often extend to the water surface. Common weeds in this group are hydrilla, coontail and watermilfoil. Emersed vegetation is also a problem in ponds and lakes. Growth usually occurs on or near shore and in shallow water areas. Plants are rooted in the bottom, and their leaves and/or stems extend above the water surface. Common emersed weeds are smartweed, alligatorweed and cattail.

When considering herbicides for control of aquatic weed problems, remember two important points. First, the label on the herbicide container provides specific information on the proper use of the chemical. Protect yourself and others by reading and abiding by directions and warnings on the product label.

A second consideration is that as dead aquatic plants decay, oxygen in the surrounding water is used in the process. If large quantities of plants are killed with one treatment, dissolved oxygen in the water may be reduced to the point that fish and other aquatic organisms die. Therefore, it is usually desirable to treat only a portion of a weed problem at a time. This allows the body of water to recover lost oxygen before subsequent treatments. The possibility of low oxygen becomes more serious as water temperatures rise in late summer. If possible, weed problems should be dealt with when water temperatures are between 70 and 80 degrees F.

There are several methods for applying herbicides. Some herbicides can be applied directly from the container. Handheld or backpack sprayers are used for spraying emersed vegetation around the shoreline. Boat-mounted tank sprayers can be used for either surface spray or subsurface injection. Hand-operated or mechanical spreaders are used for dispensing granular material. Granular material can also be dissolved by towing it in a bag behind a boat.

When considering chemical control, check with the parish Cooperative Extension Service office or a fisheries biologist for plant identification and current herbicide recommendations. Additional information on aquatic weed control and related topics is available from your local Extension office. Request these publications: Handbook for Common Calculations in Finfish Aquaculture, Pub. 8903; Aquatic Weed Management: Herbicides, Pub. 2398; Aquatic Weed Management: Control Methods, Pub. 2410.

Source: Management of Recreational and Farm Ponds in Louisiana," LSU AgCenter, Pub. 2573, 11/03 Rev."  

Stocking Public Waters

Stocking Public Waters
Stocking Public Waters
Stocking Public Waters
Stocking Public Waters

How to Stock Ponds

Stocking Procedures

Once the decision has been made as to what to stock, it is important to follow the proper procedures to maximize the health and survival of the fingerlings purchased. If survival of one or another type of fish being stocked is low, actual numbers will differ greatly from the recommended rates, and pond balance may be difficult to establish or maintain. In some instances, high mortality shortly after stocking may go unnoticed. For this reason, every effort must be made to minimize stress during transport and stocking.

Acclimation Procedures

Fingerlings for stocking are generally transported in hauling tanks with aeration or in sealed bags with oxygen. Upon arrival, gradually replace water in hauling tanks with water from the pond to be stocked. This can be done with a small pump or with buckets. Adjust temperature gradually, with no more than a 7-8 degree F increase or a 5 degree F decrease per half hour. Continue aeration during this process. When temperatures have been adjusted, transfer fish to the pond as gently as possible, with minimal handling.

If fingerlings arrive in sealed plastic bags, float the bags in a shady area for 30 minutes, then open them and immediately release the fish. Normally, pond water should not be gradually mixed with shipping water in bags. Carbon dioxide and ammonia build up in shipping bags during transport. Since these compounds cannot dissipate into the atmosphere, dissolved carbon dioxide reaches very high levels, lowering the pH of the shipping water. Opening the bags allows the carbon dioxide to escape rapidly, and aerating or splashing accelerates this process. The pH rises drastically, and any ammonia present rapidly converts to the toxic form. This chain of events will kill fry and small fingerlings quickly.

This problem is less serious when transport times are short and when fish have not been fed for several days. Gradual mixing of pond water with transport water in bags (after temperature adjustment) is usually desirable only when moving young fish from hard water to moderately or very soft water. When attempting this procedure, monitor the fish closely for signs of stress, and introduce them directly into the pond if they begin to appear weak or disoriented. 

Alexander State Forest

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
7,955 Acres
(318) 371-3050

Alexander Forest Wildlife Management Area is located in south central Rapides Parish about ten miles south of Alexandria, off U.S. Highway 167, and one mile east of Woodworth.
The Louisiana Department of Agriculture, Office of Forestry is the owner of this 7,955 acre tract which is managed as commercial forest with an emphasis on experimental forestry techniques. Indian Creek Lake, a 2,600 acre reservoir, is located on the area along with a 300 acre recreation and camping area.
The forest overstory is predominantly loblolly pine with scattered stands of longleaf and slash pines. Much of the timber is managed as pine plantations. However, creek drainages have been maintained in hardwoods. In addition red oak, blackgum, sweetgum, hackberry, beech, water and willow oaks are widely scattered over the forest.
Game species available for hunting include deer, squirrel, rabbit, quail and waterfowl. The featured species on the area is white-tailed deer. Herd density is good with antler quality and body weights typical of piney woods sites. Hunter success during the either-sex muzzleloader hunts is generally above average.
An education center is owned and operated by the Department on a 17 acre site within the WMA. The center is used for a variety of educational programs. Two shooting ranges are located on the grounds. The 100 yard rifle and pistol range and a shotgun range are used in education programs and also available to the public during specified times. Information on range hours and fees is available at (318) 484-2212.
Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries operates two fish hatcheries adjacent to the WMA. These hatcheries are the primary source of fish for the statewide stocking program. Booker Fowler hatchery has a visitor center and offers hatchery group tours by appointment. For hatchery information call (318) 748-6914.
Two boat ramps are located on Indian Creek Lake. Sportfishing is the major activity on the lake. Water-skiing and swimming are also popular recreational uses. Camping facilities are operated and maintained by the Office of Forestry. Trailer and tent accommodations are available with electricity, water, bath houses and swimming areas. A fee is charged for the use of these facilities. For camping information telephone the Indian Creek Recreation Area at (318) 487-5058.
Additional information may be obtained from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, 1995 Shreveport Highway, Pineville, LA 71360.

Invasive Species/Prohibited Exotics

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Chef Philippe Parola, in an effort to produce a demand for two species of Asian carp, the silver and bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix and H. nobilis), are launching the "Silverfin Promotion." Both species of carp are exotic to U.S....
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has received reports and actual specimens of GIANT TIGER PRAWNS or Penaeus monodon, a non-native species of shrimp in Vermilion and Barataria Bays. This species of shrimp is native to the Western Pacific. If a population were established in our...
Snakeheads are native to Asia.  Their names comes from the enlarged scales that cover their heads.  Snakes are obligate air breathers.  Unlike most fish, they must obtain oxygen directly from the air rather than water.  They can live up to three days outside of water.  They...
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