Today, July 15, 2021, is the one-year anniversary of the reopening of the Bussey Brake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Morehouse Parish, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF).
Following a lengthy renovation project, Bussey Brake became available for fishing and other recreational activities on July 15, 2020. The 2,200-acre reservoir is the focal point of the WMA, which is primarily managed for quality fishing. Several renovations were made to improve the fishery, and special fishing regulations are in place to promote a quality fishing experience for all anglers.
“Wildlife and Fisheries renovated this property with the primary objective of providing an exceptional and unique fishery to both shoreline and boat anglers,” LDWF Deputy Secretary Rob Shadoin said Thursday at a ceremony celebrating the reopening. “It has received great reviews from anglers and recreational users alike. It has also made the news multiple times for producing record-setting fish. We are looking forward to making continued improvements to the WMA and maintaining the healthy stock of fish in the lake.”
The local community has been enthusiastic in its praise of the fishing at the improved Bussey Brake WMA.
In March 2021, professional angler Tyler Stewart of West Monroe hooked the biggest largemouth bass on record for the Bussey Brake lake – a 12.74-pounder. The fish was also his personal best bass.
“Catching the current record largemouth bass for Bussey Brake was really awesome,” Stewart said. “Since catching that bass, I’ve been back to the lake around a dozen times. The chance at catching another fish of a lifetime is what keeps bringing me back. There are so many giant fish in that lake now – and they are so fat and healthy. Normal 15-inch fish weigh 1.75 pounds, but at Bussey they weigh close to 3 pounds.”
Anthony Griffith of Bastrop, who caught the state’s No. 2 white crappie in the Bussey Brake Reservoir, believes the improvements made at Bussey Brake helped contribute to his record-breaking catch.
“I consider it a blessing to be able to catch a fish like this right at home,” he said. “The overall improvements that were made –the new structure, growth of trees, the restocking, the restrictions on size and lower limits – have made Bussey a very popular lake to fish and just visit.”
Griffith said he continues to fish Bussey on a regular basis, and hopes to set a new state record for the No. 1 white crappie there as well.
One upcoming improvement includes the construction of a kids-only fishing pier, which will be provided by the Morehouse Innovation and Technology Alliance. Construction on this project is expected to begin soon.
The waterbody was originally constructed in the mid-1950s by International Paper to serve as an alternative water source for the mill. After the paper mill closed, the company donated the reservoir to LDWF in 2013.
Renovations to the property that were completed at the time of the 2020 reopening included restocking game fish species, the addition of boat lanes, and upgrades to the property. The public also has access to eight miles of levee surrounding the reservoir for hiking, biking and horseback riding. The WMA features three fishing piers (including an Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible fishing pier), a wave break, as well as a three-lane concrete ramp for launching boats. There is also a site at the south entrance to drag kayaks or small boats over the levee.
The fishing regulations for Bussey Brake are as follows: Black Bass: 5 daily with a 16-inch maximum length limit with the exception that one bass over 16 inches may be kept; Crappie: 25 daily with a 10-inch minimum length limit; Bream: 50 daily with no size restrictions; state regulations are in effect for all other species. All fishing gears other than rod-n-reel or cane pole are prohibited.
There are two parking areas on the WMA, both off of LA Hwy. 593 just northwest of Bastrop. The self-clearing permit station is located at the north entrance, where the boat launch and fishing piers are located. The public can also access Bayou Bartholomew, which forms the eastern boundary of the WMA.
Visitors will need to ensure they are properly licensed. For more information about license and permit requirements, visit www.wlf.la.gov/page/wmarefugeconservation-area-licenses-and-permits.
Additionally, a daily, free self-clearing permit is required for all activities on WMAs. LDWF encourages visitors to WMAs to utilize the free LDWF WMA Check- in/Check-out App to complete the self-clearing process. The app is available from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for your Apple or Android device. Go to https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/wmas-refuges-and-conservation-areas to download. The web portal is available at http://wmacheckincheckout.wlf.la.gov. Paper permits for checking in and checking out remain available at the WMA’s permit station.
LWDF reminds the public to help keep our WMAs clean, and please take all trash with you when leaving.
For video and photos from Bussey Brake, go to: https://ldwf.canto.com/v/BusseyBrake.