catahoula lake water level

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catahoula lake water level

Postby duckhunter60 » Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:18 pm

Why in the world would water be taken off the lake starting three days before teal and still falling during teal season.
The water level was at 27.42 on 9/10/13 and now as of 7:00 pm 9/15/13 it is 27.13 and still falling. I'm 52 years old and its hard work to walk 150 yards in the mud with brush on your shoulder to build a teal blind then carry decoys to it only to have the water sucked off the lake at teal season. Please respond Lreynolds if you would happen to know. NO WATER EQUALS NO TEAL.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Lreynolds » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:46 am

The Tri-Party Agreement, to which the Corps of Engineers adheres, calls for the water level to be 27.0 to 27.5 during the drawdown phase. This year in particular, we have received a lot of comments from Catahoula Lake hunters insisting we need to draw down BELOW 27.0 to stimulate growth of moist-soil vegetation in the sanctuary. More importantly, we have been unable to do any woody vegetation control for the past 2 years because of later drawdowns, and we would like to do some herbicide spraying, bush-hogging, and some experimental clearing which requires a dry lake-bed. Consequently, we decided to maintain the water level as close to 27.0 that we can. We are scheduled to begin working on those woody-control activities today.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby duckhunter60 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 11:56 am

Then why bring the lake to 27.42 three days before teal season. Now hunters can't get ot there blind's to retrive decoys
and only got ot hunt one day of a sixteen day season. The state such have put the word out that the lake was going to be
at 27.0. Alot of hard work for nothing. Also from the ditch at nebo to the mouth of little river you can kick dust under
any woody area that the state would wont to work on and its the same on alot of the other side of the lake.Just my opion
but something smell's fishey. The state sould have waited for teal season to end before drawing down the lake to 27.0.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Lreynolds » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:13 pm

duckhunter60 wrote:Then why bring the lake to 27.42 three days before teal season.


Use the plots at rivergauges.com and you will see that the increase in water levels was due to precipitation/runoff, NOT due to structure operations. LDWF instructions to the Corps have been consistent to keep it as close to 27.0 without going below as possible. We have had trouble keeping the level down because of man-power shortages at the Corps and them not having people available for up to 4 days at a time to operate the structure.

duckhunter60 wrote:The state such have put the word out that the lake was going to be at 27.0. Alot of hard work for nothing. Also from the ditch at nebo to the mouth of little river you can kick dust under
any woody area that the state would wont to work on and its the same on alot of the other side of the lake.Just my opion
but something smell's fishey. The state sould have waited for teal season to end before drawing down the lake to 27.0.


Of course ...... something's always fishy at Catahoula Lake no matter what happens. One group of hunters want's one thing, another group wants another thing. So no matter what happens, the state is trying to "screw" somebody. Why do you think there ever had to be a "Tri-Party Agreement" for managing a big moist-soil impoundment in the first place?

All I can do is answer your questions honestly, which I have always done. If you don't believe the answer you get; then ask your questions of someone else. Maximizing teal-season hunting opportunity is not a priority of the Tri-Party Agreement, and it could not be a priority this year because of 2 years without being able to conduct vegetation-control activities. I apologize for inconveniencing you.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby A5Mag12 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:33 pm

I just wish the state would spend a portion of the money they spend on catahoula on my favorite lake. I'd gladly trade what we have for mud. Mud would at least give us hope of a better day.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Toledo » Tue Sep 17, 2013 8:27 am

duckhunter60 wrote:Why in the world would water be taken off the lake starting three days before teal and still falling during teal season.
The water level was at 27.42 on 9/10/13 and now as of 7:00 pm 9/15/13 it is 27.13 and still falling. I'm 52 years old and its hard work to walk 150 yards in the mud with brush on your shoulder to build a teal blind then carry decoys to it only to have the water sucked off the lake at teal season. Please respond Lreynolds if you would happen to know. NO WATER EQUALS NO TEAL.


You should ask for your money back. OR just find another spot to hunt. Thats what waterfowl hunters all across the country do when faced with different habitat conditions every single year. They work to find birds wherever they may be. Why do Catahoula locals always feel so entitled to something they dont even pay for?

Now that I got that out- if managing for ducks really were the top concern they would do a gradual draw down to nothing but a channel in the late spring/summer followed by a gradual increase starting about November 1st. There would always be fresh feed and new birds during regular season but there would be a shitstorm a brewing when Jimbos blind didnt have water for opener. Because he deserves it and all.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Park Duck » Tue Sep 17, 2013 6:00 pm

How about you do all that bs a month before teal season then keep it at 27.5 during teal season. Larry you had a lot of locals cussing you Sunday. Hell I even heard it was you and Obama conspiring to keep "us" from shooting teal because of the limit increase. July/ August keep the gate wide open let it get dry, do whatever you need to do.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby teaves2257 » Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:20 am

Toledo wrote:You should ask for your money back. OR just find another spot to hunt.


This ^^^^
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Quack-Attack19 » Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:28 am

[quote="Lreynolds"]
Of course ...... something's always fishy at Catahoula Lake no matter what happens. One group of hunters want's one thing, another group wants another thing. So no matter what happens, the state is trying to "screw" somebody.

Everybody I have talk to seems to want the same thing, the water level to be at 27.5 so they can teal hunt or at least get back to spot and retrieve their stuff. Also sounds like we need to find some people to work the gate, its pretty bad when you can't get somebody up there for four days at a time.

[quote="Toledo"]Why do Catahoula locals always feel so entitled to something they dont even pay for?

Just because its a public lake doesn't mean that we don't put a lot of time, money, and hard work into it. There is a lot more work that goes into to it than people think and its disappointing when the water level isn't where it should be.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Toledo » Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:27 am

Quack-Attack19 wrote:or at least get back to spot and retrieve their stuff.


Wy would they leave stuff out on a public lake and expect to be able to go back and get it?

There is a lot more work that goes into to it than people think and its disappointing when the water level isn't where it should be.


If everybody wasnt so locked in to hunting "their" spot then a minor change in water level would be a non-issue. The fact that everybody thinks there is a water level "where it should be" is just amazing. Maybe every public hunter in the state should start complaining when their water isnt just the way they like it.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Quack-Attack19 » Thu Sep 19, 2013 1:03 pm

Toledo wrote:Wy would they leave stuff out on a public lake and expect to be able to go back and get it?


Because that's the way it is and its been like that the entire 35 years my family has been hunting Catahoula. I can't expect everyone to understand that but the hundreds of people that hunt this lake know what I mean.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Underradar » Thu Sep 19, 2013 2:39 pm

Why wouldn't the government screw it up? They do everything else. Mis-managment is typical.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Lreynolds » Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:05 pm

Park Duck wrote:How about you do all that bs a month before teal season then keep it at 27.5 during teal season. Larry you had a lot of locals cussing you Sunday. Hell I even heard it was you and Obama conspiring to keep "us" from shooting teal because of the limit increase. July/ August keep the gate wide open let it get dry, do whatever you need to do.


Look at the water-level data from July and see that it wasn't drying out, so we lowered the water level to 27.0 (well, we instructed the Corp to maintain it at 27.0, you can see the graph for yourself) to get it dry. We still could not access targeted locations today in Mosquito Bend because it is still too wet.

As I said above, the Corps adheres to the Tri-Party Agreement which has boundaries on flow, water-levels, and timing; we don't have unlimited control. We must keep the water between 27.0 and 27.5 during the drawdown phase. Any level between those is "proper".

I summarized all the e-mails, calls, internet postings (like this one), and the 3 interviews I did yesterday with separate newspaper reporters ....... then I caught hell for worrying too much about hunter complaints after making a solid management decision. So fire away; I'm getting it from all sides.

Although, I did get a couple of supportive messages today claiming much better food production this year.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Toledo » Fri Sep 20, 2013 7:37 am

Lreynolds wrote:As I said above, the Corps adheres to the Tri-Party Agreement which has boundaries on flow, water-levels, and timing; we don't have unlimited control. We must keep the water between 27.0 and 27.5 during the drawdown phase. Any level between those is "proper".


What is the reasoning for not being able to drop it below 27' during the summer?
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Lreynolds » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:55 pm

From the 1969 Tri-Party agreement:

The lake bed shall be slowly dewatered no earlier than July 1, nor later than August 1 or each year, holding the water level between 27.0 and 27.5 feet m.s.l. so as to maintain a minimum pool of approximately 5,000 acres in the late summer.

The agreement was amended in 1977 to allow for earlier drawdown, and the amendment included:

Summer drawdown of water levels will permit germination and growth of wild millet, chufa, and other important waterfowl food plants on exposed shoreline mud-flats. Caution should be exercised in preventing water stages to exceed 27.5 during prescribed summer period since this would drown out the year's waterfowl food supply. Also, every effort should be made to prevent water levels from going below 27.0 during summer drawdown period. To do so would cause the loss of the 5,000 acre conservation pool and the important aquatic waterfowl food plants growing there.

After seeing that earlier drawdowns increased the germination and growth of encroaching willow, water-elm, and swamp-privet, the agreement was amended again in 1980 back to the original dates.

When the lake was nominated/approved as a Ramsar Wetland of International Significance for migratory birds, the summer drawdown and "conservation pool" were noted as critical habitat provisions for migrating shorebirds, and other wetland-dependent birds during a normally dry time period. Indeed, our shorebird surveys on Catahoula Lake the past 2 years have documented large proportions of MAV population estimates using that habitat. I don't know that shorebirds and other wetland-dependent birds were important considerations in 1969, but they are now.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby sfc711 » Fri Sep 20, 2013 5:08 pm

As I have learned being in the military for 23yrs, being a enlisted and then going to PA school having soldiers under you and above you Is that you will never b able to please everyone.


Lreynolds wrote:From the 1969 Tri-Party agreement:



The lake bed shall be slowly dewatered no earlier than July 1, nor later than August 1 or each year, holding the water level between 27.0 and 27.5 feet m.s.l. so as to maintain a minimum pool of approximately 5,000 acres in the late summer.

The agreement was amended in 1977 to allow for earlier drawdown, and the amendment included:

Summer drawdown of water levels will permit germination and growth of wild millet, chufa, and other important waterfowl food plants on exposed shoreline mud-flats. Caution should be exercised in preventing water stages to exceed 27.5 during prescribed summer period since this would drown out the year's waterfowl food supply. Also, every effort should be made to prevent water levels from going below 27.0 during summer drawdown period. To do so would cause the loss of the 5,000 acre conservation pool and the important aquatic waterfowl food plants growing there.

After seeing that earlier drawdowns increased the germination and growth of encroaching willow, water-elm, and swamp-privet, the agreement was amended again in 1980 back to the original dates.

When the lake was nominated/approved as a Ramsar Wetland of International Significance for migratory birds, the summer drawdown and "conservation pool" were noted as critical habitat provisions for migrating shorebirds, and other wetland-dependent birds during a normally dry time period. Indeed, our shorebird surveys on Catahoula Lake the past 2 years have documented large proportions of MAV population estimates using that habitat. I don't know that shorebirds and other wetland-dependent birds were important considerations in 1969, but they are now.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Toledo » Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:00 pm

Thanks for the info Larry. Could enough water be kept on the elm and privet between the months of February 1st and July 1st to kill it without effecting the duck season water levels or summer duck feed growing season?

Also, what is an acceptable amount of woody vegetation? A certain amount of it seems to provide good roosting and resting areas. The birds also seem to find their way in to feed on the pockets of feed in the trees. Ive only hunted it in recent years but I don't really see the current woody vegetation as a problem just based off of what I have seen the birds do.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Mr.L » Sat Sep 21, 2013 2:33 pm

The woody vegetation is a serious problem on the north end of Catahoula Lake particularly in Big Bend. The water elm are not bushes but huge trees. I would say that about 2/3 of that area cannot produce the duck feed that it once did. When I was a boy in the sixties, Big Bend was wide open. People would cut hay for their cows there. Also, sedimentation has filled in that area and the 29.5 ft water level during duck season no longer puts water in it. There are many acres in this area that do not produce duck food as it once did and is not huntable because of the silt deposits preventing flooding. Much clearing needs to take place there if the Catahoula Lake Restoration project is to actually do any good at restoring the duck habitat that once existed there.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Toledo » Sun Sep 22, 2013 11:09 am

Mr. L, I am sure you have way more experience then me on Catahoula but we wore the mallards out in the trees in Big Bend last year. They were holding in the cover of the trees during the day and hitting the open lake at sunset to feed. Historical data confirmed the water level was 29.5 for most of the time. We had to park the boat and walk in. The combination of the woods and really shallow water restricting access seemed to be the very thing holding birds in that area.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Mr.L » Mon Sep 23, 2013 9:34 am

Mr. Toledo, we must not be talking about the same area of Big Bend. I am talking about everything to the left of the road coming out of the Catahoula Wildlife Reufuge. That road runs down the side of the bird roost and out into the lake. AT 29.5 FT water is just barely past the end of the bird roost. When the backwater rises the hunting is usually good in the back of Big Bend. I have an old blind to the right of the road coming out of the Catahoula Wildlife Refuge and at the reading of 29.5 FT there is only about 3 IN of water at my blind. I agree with you that the hunting can be good there when water is available.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Toledo » Mon Sep 23, 2013 12:04 pm

Sounds like we were a little southeast of you.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Lreynolds » Mon Sep 23, 2013 2:23 pm

Toledo wrote:Thanks for the info Larry. Could enough water be kept on the elm and privet between the months of February 1st and July 1st to kill it without effecting the duck season water levels or summer duck feed growing season?


No. In fact, we seriously considered keeping the lake flooded to kill the privet and elm, but greenhouse experiments have shown that would have failed. We have kept some 24-inch trees flooded for nearly 3 years now, taking a sample and drying them out every 6 months ...... and they have greened right up. That stuff is incredibly flood tolerant.

Toledo wrote:Also, what is an acceptable amount of woody vegetation? A certain amount of it seems to provide good roosting and resting areas. The birds also seem to find their way in to feed on the pockets of feed in the trees. Ive only hunted it in recent years but I don't really see the current woody vegetation as a problem just based off of what I have seen the birds do.


In developing a long-term management plan, I've set our goal at 1955 conditions described by Dewey Wills. Don't ask me to defend that, because it isn't linked to some duck-energy-day or wintering waterfowl target, but it provides an end-point to whatever clearing we can do. I'm also under no illusion that woody-encroachment is the ONLY thing that needs addressed/restored at Catahoula Lake. But it is a clear problem in reducing the duck-food produced on the lakebed, and it is getting worse. Recent aerial photo-imaging studies have showed the rate of encroachment has increased since the 1940's.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Mr.L » Mon Sep 23, 2013 3:07 pm

If the LDWF wants to get rid of the woody vegetation problem especially the water elm on Catahoula Lake they need to purchase some tree shredders like the slash buster. These devices can be mounted on a track hoe and work in even marshy areas. The blades can be sharpened in a few minutes after a days work. They will grind a tree down to the roots extremely fast. This device would make short work of a water elm. These shredders could be used not only on Catahoula Lake but over the entire state on refuges to remove unwanted trees. Bulldozers will push up and pile up trees but they still have to be burnt. The slash buster is environmentally safe and chips up trees to a mulch that will rot. I am not connected to this company or sell them by the way. Go to www.slashbuster.com and see some videos. I am sure you would be impressed.
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Toledo » Mon Sep 23, 2013 4:44 pm

Larry, do you have a link to the 1955 description?

Like Mr. L, there are a number of shredders on the market that should work. They use some over here in Texas to clear large areas of mesquite and other brush. Those would make really quick work of the shorter regrowth areas. The obvious issue is would that kill it or does it just resprout?
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Re: catahoula lake water level

Postby Park Duck » Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:31 pm

Well the "lets just bush hog the clear areas now" is a bunch of bs. Larry I know that catahoulaites are in real pain in the ass. It's the worst best place for duck hunting. I think someone needs to organize a clean up weekend out there. Like the state does for crab traps.
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