Anglers in Lake Pontchartrain will soon have a new 4-acre artificial limestone reef to fish on near Kenner, officials said.
In a letter dated Jan. 10, 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans authorized construction of the Laketown Reef adjacent to the Williams Boulevard Fishing Pier.
Mike McDonough, artificial reef coordinator with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said construction is set to begin on Jan. 31 and barring unfavorable weather, the reef should be completed in only a matter of days.
LDWF and Coastal Conservation Association Louisiana worked together on the $120,000 project, which will deposit about 2,000 tons of limestone over the proposed area.
John Walther, chairman of the Habitat and Conservation Committee for CCA Louisiana, said the reef should be in casting distance of the west side of the pier, and also easily accessible by kayak or boat.
“The purpose of the reef is to create an ecosystem with a hard attachment point for the marine organisms,” Walther said. “All of our lakes have soft bottoms, so it’s essential to have some hard structure for these organisms to hold onto in order to start the food chain.
“That supports a population of bait fish, and then our sport fish come along and mix in, too.”
Because the bottom profile of the lake will be changed immediately, that usually attracts the attention of fish pretty quickly, Walther said.
“It usually takes the course of a summer or growing season before it gets well established with growing organisms, so we’re putting it in early in the year now,” he said. “By late this summer or fall, it should be yielding pretty good, and next year should be really good.”
The height of limestone from the lake bottom will be about 1 foot to allow 6 feet of water clearance, but Walther said the reef will be constructed with mounds and hollows to allow for varying currents and different edge profiles.
“That’s all part of what making a good fish habitat is all about,” he said.
McDonough said one of the benefits of working with CCA is the speed with which the projects are completed.
“They’re able to do some of the contracting a little more directly, so it speeds up the process a bit,” McDonough said.
Walther said the $120,000 price tag for the project would be split evenly between LDWF and CCA Louisiana, with LDWF’s share coming from the Artificial Reef Trust Fund, and CCA’s share coming from members’ contributions and fundraisers.
Shell Oil also was a major donor for the project, Walther said.
This is the 13th artificial reef constructed across the coast since 2002 by CCA Louisiana in conjunction with LDWF, Walther said.