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Lake Chicot drawdown to begin July 8

BY Randy Zellers

ON 06-26-2019


June 26, 2019

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

LAKE VILLAGE — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will conduct a 6-foot drawdown of Lake Chicot to improve the fishery and allow lakeside property owners the opportunity to repair boathouses and docks on the waterfront. 

The gates will be opened July 8, and the lake is expected to reach the drawdown level of 100 National Geodetic Vertical Datum by August 19, depending on rainfall in the watershed. The gates will be closed again on Jan. 1, 2020, to allow the lake to refill to normal pool by spawning season. 

According to Kris Nault, regional fisheries coordinator at the AGFC’s Southeast Regional Office in Monticello, the scheduled drawdown is part of the fishery management plan to increase productivity in the lake. 

“The lower water level concentrates predator and prey species,” Nault said. “Game fish can feed on forage more easily, so they will see increased growth. The thinning of the prey species also can benefit them, as the remaining prey will have less competition for food and also will see increased growth.”

A drawdown also offers a chance to recycle nutrients tied up in the lakebed. As the shallow flats where bass, crappie and bream normally spawn are exposed and dry out, vegetation will sprout from the nutrients available in the soil. Once the water level returns to normal, the vegetation will serve as spawning and nursery habitat for bass and crappie. As the vegetation begins to deteriorate, it also will be taken up by invertebrates and baitfish, refreshing the food chain the lake. 

In addition to the benefits to the fishery, drawdowns enable landowners time to make repairs to boat docks, boat houses, seawalls and other structures under the surface at normal water levels. For more information on the drawdown and procedures needed to establish or maintain structures on shoreline property, contact the AGFC at 877-367-3559.

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