Article Published 12-22-11
Outdoors: Water sales contract still hot topic
Last Modified: Thursday, December 22, 2011 12:07 PM
BY JOE JOSLIN / AMERICAN PRESS
The main topic on Toledo the past few weeks continues to be the new water sales contract by the Sabine River Authority of Louisiana.
I have tried to stay on top of the very heated issue as we wrote a fairly lengthy column last week on the matter.
I have been writing fishing columns and Toledo Bend news columns since 1998, and I have never had the volume of feedback this subject is receiving. My inbox is stuffed with emails from interested, concerned Toledo property owners, lake business owners, area wide anglers and people who just enjoy visiting the lake who are heart-broken to see the lake in its present condition.
The responses vary from those who express their concerns in a civil manner to those who are very angry at what many feel is a man-made situation when it comes to the present historic low water levels in the lake.
It appears the SRA is slowing down the water sales contract process and allowing more time for the public to let their legitimate concerns be made known. I think that is the best step for all concerns. Water sales may be the answer, but there are a lot of questions that need to be answered and portions of the contract that need to be revisited.
It is fairly safe to say that there is a lack of trust of the SRA on behalf of many in the general Toledo area public. Part of the trust issue might be justified, while some is not, which is the case with most heated issues.
One way to increase trust is to allow public input in the form of hearings and public forums where both sides can meet, discuss and understand each other’s position.
One prevailing, genuine, deep-seated fear is that many think that Toledo may never see lake levels above 170 feet again. When these folks who have no water under their docks and hear of a 99-year contract to sell Toledo’s water to another state, there is a predicable negative response.
One question I have, and plan to find the answer to, is whether Texas SRA will have another separate water contract or will it share with Louisiana? I mention that because Toledo Bend is governed by two authorities, Texas and Louisiana. One political governmental agency would be challenging enough, but having two governing bodies, at times, proves interesting.
However, we must remember that both states did cooperate beautifully to build the lake in the late 1950s and 1960s. The Louisiana SRA board (12-13 members) are all appointed by the governor, so we can make our positions known to Gov. Jindal as well as to board members. I did contact the governor’s office this week to let him know my concerns.
I will say that SRA Louisiana Director, Jim Pratt, has been willing to discuss the issues with me and others who have contacted him. There are several sections of the contract where we are worlds apart, but Pratt continues to be open and addressing concerns.
In looking further at the contract this week, the lack of SRA overseeing the water outtake meters needs additional consideration as the buyer is doing 90 percent of reading and recording stats. Not a good practice!
Everyone needs to be accountable, and it is just a good business practice. A standing-room only public input meeting convened Tuesday at Toledo Town and I was present for that meeting.
I will give a report on the meeting in my next week’s column.
We are back below 160 feet mean sea level as midweek readings were 159.91 feet with both generators shut down and one gate open 1 foot at the spillway with a release of 501 cubic feet per second.
Water temperatures are 55-57 degrees but will slide with another weak cold front moving into area.
Most of the lake has great water conditions with north Toledo lightly stained, midlake mostly clear and south Toledo is very clear. Backs of most major feeder creeks, including Six Mile and Housen, have some stained water.
We are still catching some bass on spinnerbaits, but the action has slowed just a bit from November and early December when water temps were in 60s.
We are trying a variety of retrieves and presentations to get them to hit the spinnerbait with most currently hitting a yo-yo or slow-roll retrieve. However, the fast retrieve will still work after 2-3 days of warm-ups between fronts.
Also, lipless crankbaits (Rat-L-Traps) are working along the edges of scattered grass as well as over the top of hydrilla. Both three-quarter- and half-ounce versions with Toledo Gold, Rayburn red, white crawfish and blue and silver all being fish-catching colors. These are working best in slightly stained conditions.
We continue to catch fish on Berkley’s Havoc Series Bottom Hopper rigged both Texas and Carolina and fished on the edge of grass in 8-15 feet as well as on ridges and points from 12-30 feet.
Stanley’s Football Jig, called a Buge-eye, is getting some attention from bass in 15-25 feet. We also caught lot of bass last week on a jigging spoon in 25-40 feet as well as a drop-shot.
The fog made it tough to find your spot part of the weekend, but early this week the crappie were on again. Holly Park Resort said on Monday some anglers had their limit by 10 a.m. Shiners in 30-foot depths is the pattern at The Chicken Coop.
The new limit is 25 crappie per day with no size limit and this regulation is the same for both Texas and Louisiana.
Joe Joslin is a syndicated outdoor columnist, tournament angler and pro guide on Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn. His column appears Thursdays. Contact him at 463-3848 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.joejoslinoutdoors.com