Lake Lonice Barrett at Flat Creek PFA near Perry has been dealt a double whammy—the drought and a busted pump—but help is on the way.
When the lake was built, the state hydrologist said the lake should be able to hold a full pool of water with sufficient rainfall. However, in recent summers we’ve experienced less-than-average rainfall, thus the lake has struggled to maintain good water levels.
Flat Creek PFA is now only about one third it’s 108-acre size and averages only a few feet deep. The deepest water is 8 feet at the dam.
A few years ago, DNR installed a large water well on the property to pump ground water into the lake, and this has maintained water levels at acceptable levels even during the drought. However, in June 2015, the well was struck by lightning and knocked out of commission. Good rains after the lightning strike kept the lake level up, but the recent drought has significantly lowered the lake, but help is on the way.
According to PFA Manager Maxie Grey, Rep. Larry Walker III, of Perry, took an active interest in the poor condition of the lake and assisted the DNR in getting a date to replace the well pump. Recently, Rep. Walker, Frank Ginn—State Senator and chairman of the Senate Natural Resourcesand Environment Committee—and Houston County Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker made a trip to Flat Creek to see firsthand the low-water situation.
The new well should be installed in January 2017. It will be located about 100 feet from the old well site, which is covered by a small wooden building. The old well was 220 feet deep, and the new well will be 480 feet deep. In addition, the DNR will take some additional steps to ensure the new well is safer from lightning strikes, with better grounding.
Although the lake is well below normal levels, it is still open for fishing, and bank access is good. Unfortunately, the boat ramp is high and dry and closed, but anglers can drag a light jonboat or kayak down to the water.
On the afternoon of Dec. 2, I stopped by the lake and found Paul Lockett, a retired Allstate Insurance Agent from Warner Robins, fishing the lake, along with his friend Willie Fields, a retired Robins Air Force Base employee. Even with low water, Paul said the fishing has been good, especially for crappie.
The pair of anglers caught eight crappie in 20 minutes by casting 1-inch, 1/32-oz. curly tail jigs in chartreuse color. Because of shallow water levels, they were casting out the jigs under a cigar cork to keep the jigs off the bottom. The cork was placed about 2 1/2 feet above the jig on light, clear mono line and cast just as far as it would go toward the middle of the lake. Their strategy was effective as they moved around the shoreline in the vicinity of the concrete rockpiles on the eastern shore.
Maxie said the crappie fishing has been good, the bream fishing fair, and some big catfish remain in the lake. Catfish have not been stocked recently, but plans are to add more in 2017.
WRD Fisheries Biologist Brandon Baker conducted a fish sample on the lake in November 2016 and found several bass over 6 pounds, with one that weighed 10 1/2 pounds. He has also been working to improve fish structure in the lake, and several more fish attractors will be added while the lake is down. He is also adding spawning gravel beds, which will help the bream and bass to reproduce.
Flat Creek PFA is located on Highway 41 about 3.5 miles south of Perry. For more information, visit www.gofishgeorgia.com or call the Fort Valley Fisheries office at (478) 825-6151.