Concordia Parish: A fisherman’s paradise

Published 7:14 am Sunday, October 3, 2021

VIDALIA — Concordia Parish is a fisherman’s paradise. It is a land of oxbows, old river channels and bayous. Vidalia mayor Buz Craft said he sees the quality fishing found in the parish as an economic development tool. 

A former professional fisherman, Craft competed in the Fishing League Worldwide before he ran out of time to fish. Now, he is making an effort to bring Major League Fishing back to the region with help from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. 

Craft’s plan is to have the LDWF stock Lake St. John, Lake Bruin, Lake Concordia and Black River Lake each with 100,000 fingerlings of Florida strain largemouth bass. This stocking would take place each year and would improve the quality of fishing, he said. 

“When you put 100,000 fingerlings in a lake, many of those will be caught before they reach their big size,” Craft said. “You put that many fish in the lake and many will survive. In three years, you could have 300,000 more Florida bass in the lakes. They can cross breed and improve the gene pool of the fish in our lakes.”

Black River Lake is connected to Horseshoe Lake by Workinger Bayou. Many of the fish stocked in Black River could make their way to Horseshoe Lake, also known as Cocodrie Lake, which was the site of a Major League Fishing tournament in 2018. 

Florida strain largemouth bass have the capability of growing bigger, Craft said. Fishing in Concordia Parish attracts people from all over and creates business opportunities. 

“When people are here fishing they are buying food and buying groceries,” Craft said. “It is something people don’t see. We are trying to enhance it and expand the knowledge and opportunities. I want people to come fish our lakes and rivers and stay in our hotels.”

Community 

Residents of the Miss-Lou region have great fishing opportunities around them. On U.S. 61 South, Wilkinson County has a county pond sprawling with pine trees providing shade along the bank. Across the river, Vidalia offers a city pond at the Concordia Parish Recreational Complex. Each year, the LDWF stocks the pond with catfish and in the winter they stock it with rainbow trout. People are welcome to fish the pond and keep catfish or trout to take home but are asked to catch and release any game fish such as bass, crappie or panfish. 

Craft said the pond was originally built because the previous administration needed dirt to level out the ball fields. It has now been developed to include a fishing pier, which has been reopened after boards were replaced. 

“Not that many people have a boat and can go fishing,” Craft said. “They can come out here and fish.” 

In years past, there have been tournaments for people to clean trash out of lakes and cut lines out of the trees. It was a part of the Mossy Oak National Day of Conservation, and he hopes to bring it back next year. 

Last spring, high schools competed in a bass fishing tournament on the local lakes. Getting the youth involved in fishing is one of his other goals, he said. 

“I’m interested in it because it is a good sport for our kids to get involved in,” Craft said. “It is really fun and wholesome. Who knows, the next young fisherman might be growing up right here in Vidalia.”

Water therapy

Fishing offers an opportunity to create memories, he said. Each of the lakes in Concordia Parish have a special place in his history and memory. 

“If I can get on one of them at this stage in my life, I’m a happy man,” Craft said. “All of them have the potential to give you a great day on any day. I call it water therapy. I enjoy the challenge and being on the water. I think if people focus more on catching than the experience, they are missing the boat. My favorite time to fish is the time I can go.”