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The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission draw down of Lake Charles that began in mid-November is complete, and the lake level is eight feet below normal pool as planned.

Water released during the draw down was used to inundate green tree reservoirs at Shirey Bay Rainey Brake Wildlife Management are for waterfowl habitat. The draw-down also improves fishing at Lake Charles, which is near Jonesboro.

Biologists allowed excess water to pass through the area to the Black River without any adverse effects.

"The goal is to maintain Lake Charles at least 8 feet below normal pool, although the lake level could drop beyond this if more water is needed at the the wildlife management area," said Allison Asher, fisheries biologist at the Game and Fish regional Office in Jonesboro.

Shirey Bay Rainey Brake Wildlife Management area is dependent on rainfall. Heavy rain during the last few years has prevented a substantial draw down of Lake Charles. Periodic winter draw downs enhance an aging fishery by congregating baitfish and sportfish together, which can increase the growth of sport fish.

Silt in shallow areas also is allowed to dry and compact, which will benefit spawning areas when the water returns in spring. Draw downs also provide adjacent landowners an opportunity to repair fishing piers and boathouses, or complete other Game and Fish approved land-use projects.

Landowners must acquire a permit for any activities on Game and Fish property, including building new structures and stabilizing shorelines. Permits, as well as a copy of the Game and Fish land use policy, may be obtained by calling regional fisheries biologists Allison Asher or Brett Timmons at 877-972-5438.

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