Louisiana State Park Series: Poverty Point and Lake Bruin

(Photo courtesy PJ Hahn)

These two parks are similar in ways, yet different in others

At first glance, Poverty Point near Delhi and Lake Bruin near St. Joseph don’t seem to have anything in common. But upon further inspection, it’s an interesting combo of fun, recreation and camping. There are a lot of ways to compare and contrast these two lakes in northeast Louisiana that have excellent Louisiana State Parks. They both have lots of water and are prime spots to fish. They both have great places to stay, boat and just relax. And they both draw people from all over the state.

But one is old and one is new. One has been in the spotlight. The other in the background. One is manmade and one is a natural oxbow. But their similarities and differences make you want to visit each one of them. And fall is a great time to do it.

There is also a lot of prime hunting near these areas and some visitors stay on the lake and visit area hunting woods to get the best of both hunting and fishing in the Sportsman’s Paradise this time of year.

Poverty Point

An aerial view of some of the prime camping spots at Poverty Point State Park.

The lines at the multi-lane boat ramp aren’t as long as they were a decade ago. The rush to rent cabins along the shore isn’t there like it used to be. And visitors are finding out there’s a lot more to do in this area than just fish. In the same vein as the old country and western song, Poverty Point is not as good as it once was, but it’s as good once as it ever was.

In a nutshell, there are some fantastic fishing trips here, but it’s not every day like it used to be. That sums up Poverty Point Reservoir in a nutshell. Oh, the fishing is still great, but it isn’t the hotspot that it was when it opened in 2005, even though it’s still one of the newest spots in the state to fish. Poverty Point State Park is still a favorite of regional visitors and more. There’s still almost full capacity on the cabins and campgrounds at peak times, but you can get a reservation most of the time if you plan ahead a little bit.

Poverty Point Reservoir is a 2,700-acre man-made lake set against a backdrop of the wide, flat Mississippi Delta bottomlands. It’s a haven for anglers, birdwatchers, families, weekend adventurers and I-20 travelers looking to explore rural north Louisiana.

Fishing for big slab crappie over two pounds is a big draw. The lake has big bass and is also a prime spot for catfish and bream. There is structure around the edges of the lake, including a growing number of piers and boat docks as the lake’s shores fill up with residential homes. The main lake area is wide open, but mostly shallow. In the fall and winter, the deep spots draw big crowds as fish gather there.

Bird watchers also flock to Poverty Point Reservoir State Park. Because this section of Louisiana is part of the Mississippi Flyway (one of the main migratory routes through the continental U.S.), both native and exotic bird species can be spotted within the park. One of the best vantage points for birdwatchers is on the half-mile-long trail bordering Bayou Macon. On the trail, you may spot a black bear, which in early 2016 was removed from the federal endangered species list. Tread lightly, and be sure to safely store all food and refuse. Bear-proof containers are available for park visitors. They can be a nuisance.

Poverty Point Reservoir is the draw for many visitors to the park who love to catch fish and eat them for supper.

Overnight visitors can rent one of the waterfront cabins. Choose from one of eight deluxe cabins or four lodges. At the park’s south end, more than 50 RV campsites are available.

Attractions outside the park tend to focus on outdoor activities. Black Bear Golf Course in Delhi is part of Louisiana’s celebrated Audubon Golf Trail, and nearby Poverty Point World Heritage Site features over 3,000-year-old Native American mounds and artifacts.

The North Marina Complex features a swimming beach area, boat launch, marina with 48 covered boat slips, concession area, fishing pier and fish cleaning station. The marina complex is open daily. The rental boat slips in the marina complex are available on an annual lease basis. Lease rental fee information can be obtained by contacting the Reservation Center at 1-833-609-0686. Each boat slip provides connections for electricity and water. The general public is not allowed on the boat slips unless they are renters.

Lake Bruin

One thing many visitors to this park don’t realize is that this spot was originally a fish hatchery on Lake Bruin back in 1928. Apparently it was pretty successful, because the 3,000 acre oxbow lake has been one of north Louisiana’s most consistent fishing holes for decades.

The banks are lined with structure from cypress tree stands to fishing piers and boat houses. The park itself covers more than 50 acres and provides easy access to some of the best fishing on the lakes. If you don’t have a boat, that’s okay, too. Three large fishing piers, a year-round boat launch, and a boat shed for docking make things convenient for the casual or serious fisherman. Rental boats are also available.

Fishing the shorelines at Lake Bruin is productive and a beautiful sight. (Photo courtesy PJ Hahn)

If it’s good bass fishing you want, largemouth bass fishing is popular all year round, but some of the best months are in the fall. The lake is teeming with crappie, too, and you can catch them just about any time of year. The entire length of the lake is full of bluegill bream.

If it’s fishing you like, fall is a good time to go because the lake’s pleasure boating activities have slowed down.

Camping here is a quiet, secluded and restful experience. Lake Bruin’s day use area offers picnic tables and barbecue grills situated near the lake and adjacent to two of the fishing piers, restrooms and playground areas. A covered pavilion allows park visitors to enjoy their meals whatever the weather. Most facilities are wheelchair accessible. Overnight guests have options for places to stay. The park has 36 improved campsites with water and electrical hookup, and 12 premium sites in prime locations with pull-through convenience.

Lake Bruin State Park is located less than a mile from the Mississippi River in scenic east-central Louisiana. Lake Bruin Recreation has a drawdown underway with the lake lowered to a maximum of five feet below pool stage remaining at that level until Dec. 15, 2022.

About Kinny Haddox 592 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, lakedarbonnelife.com and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.