Louisiana is known for many things, but few people take note of its beautiful lakes. However, this state is blessed with many bodies of water, whether they are natural or artificial. So, continue reading to learn about the oldest artificial lake in Louisiana and all the natural beauty that surrounds it.
The Oldest Artificial Lake in Louisiana
The oldest artificial lake in Louisiana is called Cross Lake. This reservoir is 8,575 acres, and it’s situated near Shreveport, LA. In addition to being a recreational outlet, it also provides a water supply to the city of Shreveport.
This lake is popular for fishing and recreational boating, and its banks are lined with the most beautiful moss-covered cypress trees. Cross Lake also supports wildlife like alligators, waterfowl, and more. There is also a lot to do around the lake; there are two public parks, commercial facilities, and two access sites.
History of the Oldest Artificial Lake in Louisiana
Cross Lake was created in 1926 to provide water to the city of Shreveport. The lake resulted from a concrete dam built on the right of way of Kansas City Southern Railway Company which provided a spillway 225 feet long for lake overflow.
Once the lake was completed, it had an average depth of eight feet and covered almost 9000 acres. In addition, it had a maximum depth of 27 feet in the channel, and its width was between one to three miles by 8 miles in length.
Furthermore, lake cross has 56.4 miles of shoreline with nearly 14 square miles of water surface. When it was first constructed, this lake had a capacity of 25 billion gallons, providing Shreveport with an excellent water source. In addition, it was a welcome substitute for the Red River, which they had used prior.
During the drought between 1954 and 1955, the reservoir did a great job serving the city despite reaching an all-time low level.
Things to Do Around Cross Lake
There are tons of fun activities to do around Cross Lake, including:
- Fishing tournaments
- Vacation rentals
- Water skiing
- Wildlife viewing
Fish Species In Cross Lake
There are several species of fish in Cross Lake, which include:
When fishing for bass in Cross Lake, you are spoiled for choice. For example, when on the main like, you can catch bass from the rock banks, docks, scattered cypress trees, coves of lily grass, and grass lines. However, on the west end of the lake, they bite by the grass beds, cypress trees, lily pads, and under heavy cover.
There are three species of catfish in Cross Lake:
- Blue catfish
- Flathead catfish
- Channel catfish
A fun fact about Cross Lake is that it’s one of the few places where fishers can achieve the Catfish Grand Slam, which is when someone catches all three species from the same body of water.
Out of the three, blue catfish are the biggest, weighing over 100 pounds! They generally occur in large rivers with grave or sandy bottoms and a fast current. In Louisiana, the state record is held by a 12-year-old boy named Lawson Boyte. This young man caught a blue catfish weighing 114 pounds near Lake Providence on the Mississippi River in 2014.
Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
The redear sunfish typically occur throughout the warmer states. They are generally dark green or brown on the top side, yellow on their sides, with white bellies. Males are distinguished by the red stripe along the edge of their ears, while females have orange stripes. When using a light line, bait like grubs and worms work best as redear sunfish rarely rise for flies and baits off the surface.
The green sunfish occurs in ponds and lakes with heavy vegetation. They generally feed on insects, larvae, and small invertebrates. As a result, when trying to catch one, use a light line, size 12 hooks, and crickets, worms, or cut bait. They are easy prey for anglers because they tend to run in schools, resulting in lots of competition for food.
The longear sunfish are vulnerable to fly fishermen because they feed on the surface. Therefore, this makes them one of the best fish species for kids to catch. In addition, longear catfish is the perfect bait for larger predatory fish. These fish are also easy to catch because they will eat just about anything. So, when fishing for one, use ultra-light tackle.
The white crappie generally occurs in the southern states. They are the lighter of the two species and have size dorsal spines and eight to nine vertical bands on their sides. These fish prefer quiet backwaters. Furthermore, white crappies often occur in murky water.
Wildlife Around Cross Lake
Fish are not the only species that rely on the oldest man-made lake in Louisiana. There is plenty of wildlife that depends on Cross Lake, including:
The American alligator takes first place as the largest reptile in North America. In fact, the biggest alligator on record was 19 feet 2 inches long and weighed 2,000 pounds! However, they typically measure between 8 to 12 feet. Once American alligators reach adulthood, they have 80 teeth at a time, but they can go through 3,000 teeth during their lifetime! In addition, alligators have one of the most powerful jaws in the animal kingdom and can snap their jaws with the force of 2,000 pounds per square inch. Furthermore, Louisiana is home to over 1 million alligators. The only other state with such a high alligator population is Florida.
Louisiana holds the title of the second-largest bald eagle population; Florida has the most. For example, there are around 350 nests in Louisiana. However, the bald eagle population significantly declined from the 20th century until the 1970s due to legal hunting. Unfortunately, although the bald eagle eventually received protection, its numbers still decreased. Environmentalists blamed their drastic decline on the use of the pesticide DDT.
Rafinesque’s Big-Eared Bats
These bats are similar to Townsend’s big-eared bats, as their ears are over an inch long. In addition, they have two lumps on the sides of their noses. The Rafinesque’s big-eared bat is medium in size, measuring 3 to 3.9 inches long with a wingspan of 10 to 12 inches. Furthermore, they weigh between 0.21 to 0.46 ounces. Their dorsal side is gray, and they have white undersides. Lastly, their face and ears are pinkish-brown, while their wing membrane and forearms are dark brown.
According to the Endangered Species Act, the red-cockaded woodpecker is endangered in the USA. These birds are similar in size to the northern cardinal. However, they have very specific habitat needs. For example, they are the only southeastern woodpecker species only occupying pine trees infected with red heart fungus, where they excavate their nest and roost cavities. In addition, they prefer pines that are 80-100 years old but can occur in pine trees at least 60 years old.
People often describe coyotes as elusive and secretive, which is true since few know that these canines live amongst them. They are masters at avoiding detection. For example, coyotes can survive in rural and urban areas with incredible success. In addition, they thrive in severe climates like the arid regions of the western US. Furthermore, their range expanded over the last century since they are now found in every state, excluding Hawaii. They also occur throughout Mexico, Central America, and Canada.
Where is Cross Lake Located on a Map?
Situated near Shreveport, Louisiana, Cross Lake is a human-made lake spanning 8,575 acres. Serving as the primary water source for the City of Shreveport, this reservoir is adorned with cypress trees draped in moss, creating a picturesque setting. The lake is a favored destination for fishing enthusiasts and recreational boaters alike.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Faina Gurevich/Shutterstock.com
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