Low water levels are increasing problem in parish

Published 12:01 am Sunday, August 12, 2012

A fast moving thunderstorm late Friday evening dumped a couple of inches of much-needed rain on some areas of Adams County and Concordia Parish.

It was enough rain to cool the area lakes’ and rivers’ surface-water temperatures down a few degrees for this weekend.

It certainly won’t take long for the hot August sun to warm the water back up. Surface-water temperatures have not changed much since July. By mid-day the water temperature averages 88 to 92 degrees. That is some hot water, and it does make for a tough day on some of the lakes.

Email newsletter signup

The old rivers at Vidalia and Deer Park continue to be the best place to catch bass and white perch.

The current low water level is not helping the lake fishing at all. Low, hot water lowers the water quality. Some of our lakes look like the color of English peas, a pea-soup funky green color.

The rain helps, but it was not enough rain to do anything about the extremely low water levels.

For the past decade or so, low water has been a problem on the landlocked lakes in Concordia Parish during the summer and fall seasons. The low water level problem kicked off about the years 2000 and 2001. We had a drought those two years, and lake conditions (and the fishing) have never been the same.

People campaigned back then. Meetings were held, and some wanted higher levels, while others wanted lower levels. Nothing was ever done that amounted to anything.

The problem starts in the spring when some Concordia Parish lakes are drawn down just as the bass, white perch and bream start to spawn. A decade of not-so-good fish spawns have landed us where we are today.

The drawdowns were done with anticipation of heavy late-spring rains that we never received. The low water level of the Black River/Horseshoe Lake Complex is now the most talked about subject.

A Concordia Parish Police Jury meeting was held recently about this subject. Results from that meeting are waiting on studies to see if one or both of the proposals will be the way to correct the low water problem.

Residents that live on the lake are now complaining about the low level affecting their waterfront property as well as the fishing. We (the fishermen) have been complaining for many, many years. I am certainly glad to hear others are finally aware there is a problem.

We watched as Horseshoe Lake went from a fine fishery to a practically dried up lake with no cover in the water to hold game fish.

We watched as Cocodrie, Cross and Working bayous went from beautiful scenic bayous to silted in, muddy gar holes. There are still game fish in the bayous, but the fish are concentrated in very small areas. Water depth at what used to be pool stage has dropped several feet from silt and even more from pumping the water out and from irrigation.

I gave up hope several years ago that the complex would ever be the same as it was 20-plus years ago. I am certainly glad someone else is trying to get something done and wish all the best of luck. Hopefully, the experts will figure out the best way to make everyone happy.

Keep in mind the entire Black River/Horseshoe Lake Complex and the connecting bayous are first and foremost a watershed that drains Concordia Parish.

I was told that years ago, fishing was not a factor in the way the water level of the complex is controlled. Fishing certainly brings a lot of money into the parish, or should I say it used to bring money into the area.

Not many people come from out of town or out of state to fish our waters anymore. Vidalia is drained via the Vidalia Canal that snakes its way south through the parish and dumps in to Cocodrie Bayou. The overflow waters from Lakes St. John, Concordia and everything else in this parish eventually drains into Cocodrie Bayou. The bayou continues flowing south several miles.

Cross Bayou enters Cocodrie Bayou and twists and turns and eventually ends up in Horseshoe Lake. From Horseshoe, rain water enters Black River Lake. The water will rise until Black River Lake is full then the flow will reverse and go back through Workinger into Horseshoe into Cross and to Cocodrie Bayou again.

The rainwater then goes through the locks known as Wild Cow.

Hopefully one or both of the proposals will resolve the low water problem. I will have more information on this as it becomes available.


Eddie Roberts writes a weekly fishing column for The Democrat. He can be reached at fishingwitheddie@bellsouth.net.