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Anglers in Ashley County are very upset about an infestation of water hyacinth at Lake Grampus, but a remedy is in the works.

I've heard from a wide range of people about this problem in recent weeks, including Ashley County Judge Jim Hudson. Grampus Lake is a vital recreational resource in Ashley County, and Hudson wants it fixed.

Grampus Lake, near Montrose, is one of four large oxbow lakes off Bayou Bartholomew. The others are Lake Enterprise (Wilmot), Lake Wilson (Portland) and Lake Wallace (Dermott). All are owned by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and they are vital recreational resources for anglers in southeast Arkansas. When they are accessible, they offer excellent fishing for largemouth bass, crappie, bream and catfish. They're also good places to catch grinnel.

Water from Lake Grampus is also used to irrigate adjacent farmland.

I fished Lake Grampus with Willie "The Barbecue Man" Johnston and Levi Gray of Hamburg. Water hyacinth was conspicuous at that time, but it has since overtaken much of the lake's surface area and made it largely unfishable.

Chris Racey, chief of the fisheries for the Game and Fish Commission, said that commission personnel have sprayed herbicide on the lake once, but multiple applications probably will be necessary to be effective. That is because water hyacinth, once it becomes well established, grows in layers. One herbicide application might knock out the top layer, but you have to keep spraying to knock out the sub layers.

The cypress trees and tupelo trees that dot Lake Grampus complicate things a bit because they block herbicide and prevent thorough saturation.

On the other hand, drought might offset those difficulties by dehydrating some of the plants.

"I'm surprised you haven't heard from the Lake Enterprise folks," Racey said. "I can assure you we're working on it."

A long cold snap will help more than anything, Racey said. In the United States, water hyacinth survives year round in hardiness zones 8-11. Southeast Arkansas is at the northern edge of Zone 8. Prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures is the only thing that will kill it wholesale on a landscape wide basis.

Duck lawsuit hoax

Two former members of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission recently asked if it's true that a group of duck hunters is mounting a class-action lawsuit against the agency for selling state duck stamps when there's so little water in the state.

I asked Jim Goodhart, the commission's chief legal counsel. He thought that was really funny.

"That's the first I've heard of it," Goodhart said. "I think lack of rainfall would be considered an 'act of God,' but if that's how they want to spend their money, we'll mount a vigorous defense."

There is a literary precedent for this -- ahem -- novel idea. Wahoo Rhapsody by Shaun Morey is the story of an expatriate lawyer who won a lawsuit against organized religion for liability over so-called acts of God, and then spent the rest of his life on the lam. Its reminiscent of Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, but even better.

CWD correction

In Thursday's column I misreported a statement by Jenn Ballard, the Game and Fish Commission's veterinarian, during a presentation she gave Wednesday to the commission on chronic wasting disease.

The erroneous paragraph reported Ballard as saying the agency is doing genetic testing on CWD prions.

"Proteins don't have genomes," Ballard said. "We are looking at deer genomes and prion types."

Ballard said the commission is attempting to identify the genomes of deer in the state that test positive for chronic wasting disease. She said the commission is seeking funding to characterize the prions found in Arkansas deer that test positive.

Ballard was worried that the error undermines her professional credibility.

Doubtless the overwhelming majority of the science community is perceptive enough to attribute that kind of error to a lay columnist, not to its peer.

In response to a contrary opinion, Ballard also said the AGFC has tested a great number of deer for chronic wasting disease outside of the Ozarks.

Sports on 12/17/2017

Print Headline: Ashley County anglers steaming over Lake Grampus hyacinth

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