NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' construction of hurricane levees will soon become a boon to bass fishing in South Louisiana.

More than 1,000 largemouth bass will be stocked in three ponds created in the Bonnet Carré Spillway by the excavation of clay to improve hurricane levees.

Stocking will begin at 11 a.m., Thursday, May 17, in a joint project of the Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The location is just north of Airline Highway (U.S. 61) on the spillway's west side, near the St.Charles Parish Recreation Area.

The spillway is a safety valve to protect metro New Orleans from Mississippi River floods. The Corps has opened the spillway eight times since its completion in 1931. This has left it free for recreation more than 100 days per one day of operation.

"We've been working with clay-borrow contractors to shape the areas they are excavating to provide suitable fish habitat and make these waters accessible for fishing," said Chris Brantley, a wildlife biologist who is the spillway's operation manager.

Fifty bass per acre will be stocked in three borrow pits of five, eight and 10 acres. The bass will come from a Fish & Wildlife Service hatchery in Natchitoches.

Levee-clay excavators have begun work on another 42-acre plot that will be stocked with bluegill in the fall.