False River drawdown shows promise for fishermen

False River (Source: WAFB)
False River (Source: WAFB)
False River (Source: WAFB)
False River (Source: WAFB)
False River (Source: WAFB)
False River (Source: WAFB)

FALSE RIVER, LA (WAFB) - Busted bulkheads, a fish kill, and declining property values are all concerns of people who live in False River. They became worried when the Point Coupee Police Jury decided to lower the water in the river last September, but a recent visit to the lake showed signs of promise.

The breathtaking views of False River are hard to ignore. It's not uncommon to find fishermen on the water year round, but the popular fishing hole was disturbed last fall when the river was drawn down by five and a half feet. Video and pictures taken by 9News in November show bulkheads exposed from miles away and a fish kill that left a nasty smell along the banks.

Biologist manager with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Brian Heimann, said it was all part of the process.

"During the drawdown, we were seeing periods of impaired water quality. Since then, the lake has stabilized to some degree," Heimann said.

The drawdown ended on January 15. The lake water has returned to its usual level and life, at least from the surface, appears to be normal. Heimann said the marine life below is thriving. "Things like improved spawning and recruitment of fishes, improved weights, those tend to improve over a period of year," Heimann said.

The biggest benefit to the naked eye can perhaps be spotted at the south end of the river where vegetation is growing. "Those wouldn't be there if the water stayed stable all the time. These are areas that were exposed when they dredged for the island back in 2014," Heimann said.

Since then, fish, ducks, and other wildlife have been able to feed off of the plants and grow in a protected habitat. Heimann said that will eventually translate into a grander experience for sportsmen.

"We expect more fish will have a successful spawn coming in the next couple of years, which will turn into adult fish several years from that," Heimann said.

Heimann said he does not anticipate the drawdown being an annual project, but the frequency will depend on the long-term impact of the project.

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