After an unusually long summer flooding period, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has finally completed the annual drawdown on Catahoula Lake, an important stop for early-season waterfowl in the Mississippi Flyway.
The drawdown is conducted to stimulate germination and growth of moist-soil vegetation that provides food for migrating and wintering waterfowl, as well as shorebirds. Hundreds of thousands of birds are typically counted on the lake in November, according to a press release.
“If the water level stays within our target levels, there is still enough time to get production of desirable waterfowl food plants like millet and sprangletop before re-flooding in November,” LDWF WMA biologist supervisor Cliff Dailey said. “To maximize the chances of success, the water level will be held at 27.0 feet above MSL until mid-November.”
Water levels are managed cooperatively by LDWF and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers via an operations document called the Tri-Party Agreement. The agreement calls for a lake drawdown level of 27.0 to 27.5 feet, with the drawdown usually completed by late July.
However, high water from rainfall and runoff made that impossible this year, so the water level will be kept at the lower-end of that range to increase the chances of vegetative growth prior to the arrival of large migratory flocks of ducks this fall.