The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says it wants to help the fishery for local anglers at Suwannee Lake.
The lake in Suwannee County near Live Oak will be closing for renovations on Tuesday for the first time since the lake opened in 1967.
Some of the renovations include draining the lake, certain parts being deepened, removing organic material from the bottom, providing better access for anglers and boaters, replanting native vegetation, and restocking the lake with pure strain Florida bass and other kinds Florida sportfish.
“We’re just really excited that we can improve the habitat and improve the fishery. We hope the anglers can take advantage of that,” said FWC regional administrator Allen Martin. “It is a process, however. We’re looking at a couple of years down the road before it starts to get really good.”
The renovations are taking place as a result of the dwindling fish population and the overall decline in the habitat at Suwannee Lake.
“The fisheries habitat had degraded over time in Suwannee Lake as it does in a lot of reservoirs,” said Martin. “We saw less and less use out here, so we hope once the project is done, the fish population has recovered and we’ll see more use out here.”
Planning for the FWC project began around a year and a half ago. But it wasn’t until recently, according to FWC fisheries biologist Daniel Dorosheff, that the commission decided to close the lake down to the public.
“Early on in the planning process, we knew we would get to a point where we would have to close the property to the public because it would become a construction site,” Dorosheff said. “This was about five months ago.”
Both Dorosheff and Martin said they received positive responses from local anglers about the lake being shut down for renovations. They also hope to see more anglers come out to the lake to fish once the project is completed.
“We certainly extend an invitation to all the nearby anglers once the project is complete,” said Dorosheff, “We look forward to a better fishery. This is something that we hope to give another press release about when it’s complete.”
FWC does not have a specific date for when the lake will reopen.