Fisherman, business owner says Black Bayou water control structures causing problems

Published: May. 17, 2023 at 9:25 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Over the years, we’ve heard many complaints about water control structures and how they affect fishing. The latest comes from the Black Bayou area, where a shrimper and business owner says it’s ruining his boat slip.

“This one is causing all the trouble and they don’t care,” said Fred Wannage.

Wannage is proud of his new shrimp boat and hopes to do well as the inland brown shrimp season gets underway. But he said the Black Bayou culvert structure off Big Lake Road has created a mess for months.

“Last year I was trying to get a rope out of my wheel when I jumped over the side of this boat right here. I sunk in the mud up to my knees, lost my shoes. Just solid mush. Solid mush!” said Wannage.

Wannage said it messes up boat engines and that they can no longer swim in the slip.

“It’s just solid sludge. If I would fire this up and put it in gear it’s all mud. I’m afraid about hurting my motor,” he said.

The purpose of such structures is usually to help prevent saltwater intrusion and maintain certain water levels. But Wannage said he thinks the gates are not all the way open.

“Them two gates is closed, half closed. They say they’re open, but it’s not all the way open. It’s putting a whirlpool on me. We used to swim in it but I don’t know anybody going to swim in that.”

Wannage, who owns Fred’s Lounge, said the problem is cutting into his livelihood.

“That much, solid mush. I’m just stuck now. I need some kind of help,” he said.

He hopes those who are supposed to operate and maintain the water control structures for coastal protection will come up with a way to get things back to the way they were before he was, in his words, “stopped up.”

We reached the State of Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority manager for the project. Phillip Parker said as policy requires, he forwarded our request for comment to the outreach and information director in Baton Rouge.

We did find an inspection report that may be reviewed here.S