NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A bass recently pulled out of the lake in New Orleans City Park was the second 9-pounder this year, and set the lake record at 9.05 pounds.
The bass caught last week by Tim Zissis shows that the little lake offers world-class fishing, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said in a news release Thursday.
The department began stocking the 110-acre lagoon complex in 1999. Since 2009, more than 18,000 bluegill fingerlings, 204 channel catfish fingerlings and 256 Florida bass pre-spawn adults have been brought in to improve urban fishing.
The department and city have worked together to improve City Park lagoons and the Bayou St. John fishery, which feeds water to the City Park Lakes.
Improvements began nearly 10 years ago but suffered significant setbacks due to Hurricane Katrina. Saltwater and flooding drove out freshwater, damaged shorelines and left debris
"Since the storm, we've regained those improvements and created arguably the best urban fishing system in the nation, if not the world," said LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina. "Water quality in the lagoons, a problem for decades, is now better than ever thanks to our restoration efforts."
Work since the hurricanes of 2005 included installing a system which monitors both water flow and salinity, to improve fisheries habitat and stock. Federal grants paid for that project. Additional projects include water circulation improvements, herbicide to kill invasive aquatic plants and use of recycled Christmas trees to create artificial fishing reefs.
The department, park staff and volunteers have spent years removing non-native vegetation and replacing it with native plants.
The City Park Big Bass Rodeo, held each spring, brings out more than 600 contestants of all ages and backgrounds. The department sponsors the Rio Removal Rodeo -- a free fishing event to help reduce the Rio Grande cichlid population in the Greater New Orleans area. The invasive species is known to outcompete native sportfish for habitat and bedding areas.
The department and Louisiana Outdoors Outreach Program offer youth fishing instructions and demonstrations.