GALLERY: Pros, experts, local celebrities rally for Minn Kota Habitat Restoration at Lake Claiborne - Major League Fishing

GALLERY: Pros, experts, local celebrities rally for Minn Kota Habitat Restoration at Lake Claiborne

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Kevin VanDam, Gary Klein and Dakota Ebare spent their off day from Heavy Hitters competition to help FMD build artificial habitats on Lake Claiborne. Anglers: Kevin VanDam, Dakota Ebare, Gary Klein.
April 27, 2023 • Steven Bardin • Bass Pro Tour

General Tires Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops anglers Dakota Ebare, Gary Klein and Kevin VanDam spent their off day Tuesday building MossBack Fish Habitat artificial structure on Lake Claiborne, Louisiana, as part of the Minn Kota Habitat Restoration Project supported by Humminbird. The anglers joined District 1 and 2 offices from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fish (LDWF) for the project, along with the Claiborne Parish Watershed District Commission (CPWDC), Duck Dynasty star John Godwin and Steven Bardin, director of the MLF Fisheries Management Division in partnership with Berkley Labs.

“Being a part of this project and seeing everyone’s commitment to improving Louisiana fisheries is exciting, especially for me growing up in the state,” Ebare said.

Lake Claiborne is one of the deeper reservoirs in Louisiana. It covers 6,400 acres and is limited in habitat to sparse vegetation and older timber. Over the past several years, the CPWDC and LDWF have been collaborating on improving the habitat, largemouth bass genetics and forage in the reservoir.

Since 2018, the CPWDC has funded the stocking of 80,000 Florida-strain largemouth bass fingerlings annually. They’ve also stocked 20,000 bluegill sunfish for forage. In 2022, they hosted a “Reef Rodeo,” providing 200 unused Christmas trees to local anglers to create brush piles. In 2023, CPWDC began collecting fin samples to assess genetics of their bass population and implemented a lunker bass free replica program for any angler who catches a fish over 10 pounds, certifies it and releases it. 

The Minn Kota Habitat Restoration project supported by Humminbird provided the LDWF and CPWDC an opportunity to improve habitat on a larger scale with products that will not decay. The group built over 80 structures provided by MossBack, including 14 40-inch Conservation Cubes, 23 20-inch Root Wads, 25 60-inch Trophy Tree XL, 18 Safe Haven XL, and 15 John Godwin Crappie Towers. The structures were deployed in groups of three to five units in water depths from 6 to 12 feet.

The exact GPS locations will be available on the CPWDC and LDWF websites in the coming weeks.