For obvious reasons, the Department focuses a large amount of effort on big, marquee water bodies that are widely known and heavily utilized by anglers, but don’t let small, urban lakes fall under your radar.
In many instances, smaller lakes may have fisheries that parallel or exceed those of big lakes when it comes to catch rates and size structure of fish. City Park Lake falls right in the backyard of many New Orleans residents, and offers a world-class fishing opportunity.
Tim Zissis’s monstrous bass, landed just last week, is a perfect example of the fishery excelling in both numbers and size. Zissis set a City Park record with his 9.05 pound catch. It was the second 9 pound bass caught this year from the 110-acre lagoon complex.
When LDWF first got involved, the lagoons system was neglected as a fishing resource, but even before Hurricane Katrina hit, we had already turned the corner. “Since the storm, we’ve regained those improvements and created arguably the best urban fishing system in the nation, if not the world,” explained LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina. “Water quality in the lagoons, a problem for decades, is now better than ever thanks to our restoration efforts.”
Post-Katrina, the Department installed a water monitoring system, funded by federal grants, which monitors both water flow and salinity, to improve fisheries habitat and stock. Additional projects include water circulation improvements, herbicide treatments of invasive aquatic plant species and the construction of additional habitat by using recycled Christmas trees to create artificial fishing reefs.
The Department began stocking City Park waters in 1999, with the goal of improving urban fishing opportunities. Since 2009, over 18,000 bluegill fingerlings, 204 channel catfish fingerlings and 256 Florida bass pre-spawn adults have been stocked by the LDWF.
In addition to stocking efforts, the Department is also involved in many cooperative projects to improve the City Park lagoons as well as the Bayou St. John fishery, the system which feeds water to the City Park Lakes. Although improvement efforts were initiated nearly ten years ago, the system suffered significant setbacks due to Hurricane Katrina. Saltwater and flooding not only drove freshwater fish from the park’s lagoons, but it also left behind a great deal of debris and decimated shorelines.
LDWF staff, working along with New Orleans City Park and scores of dedicated volunteers, have spent years removing non-native vegetation and replacing it with native plants, providing excellent casting access for area anglers, which is great news for City Park Big Bass Rodeo organizers. The nation’s oldest freshwater fishing contest is held annually each spring and attracts more than 600 participants of all ages and backgrounds hoping to catch those elusive lunkers for bragging rights and trophies.
Another event, sponsored by the Department, that’s no stranger to City Park Lake, is the Rio Removal Rodeo, a free fishing rodeo to help reduce the Rio Grande cichlid population in the Greater New Orleans area. The invasive species is known to outcompete native sportfish for habitat and bedding areas.
Throughout the year, LDWF staff also team up with the Louisiana Outdoors Outreach Program to provide local youth with fishing instructions and demonstrations, with targeted information on how to fish City Park Lake and its surrounding waters.
For a map of the City Park Lake complex including common species and recommended gear, click the following link: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/document/36951-lawf….