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Shell, LDWF collaborate on newest reef in Lake Charles

On Wednesday, CCA Louisiana, along with Shell Oil, Building Conservation Trust (CCA's National Habitat Program), the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), Lotte Corp, Road Rock Recycling and DLS Energy hosted government officials, volunteers and media members to view the installation of Big Jack’s Reef in the southeast portion of Calcasieu Lake.

The reef is named in honor of the late Jack Lawton, Sr., known by family and friends as “Big Jack.” Mr. Lawton, a renowned business man and beloved philanthropist from the Lake Charles area, was a founding member of CCA Louisiana and the Lake Charles CCA Chapter. Members of the Lawton family were on hand to view the construction.

“My dad loved to fish and he loved Big Lake, and did whatever he could to ensure it would be a great place to fish for everyone,” said Jack Lawton, Jr. during the dedication ceremony. “We are honored and thankful that the Lake Charles CCA chapter chose to recognize him in this way. He would be very proud of this project.”

Construction began last week on the five-acre reef, which is comprised of recycled whole and crushed concrete. The reef will consist of about 800 recycled concrete pilings that are being placed in a parallel arrangement across the 5 acre site. It will then be topped with crushed concrete to provide a more aggregated surface.   The reef construction should be completed by mid-June.

“This reef will provide excellent habitat for trout, reds and other marine species,” said CCA Louisiana VP of Habitat John Walther. “The parallel arrangement of the concrete pilings will help capture the tidal flow across the reef, and create eddies where baitfish will be found. I expect before long, Big Lake anglers will be catching nice specks on Big Jack’s Reef.”

Big Jack’s Reef is the 20th reef of its kind to be built by CCA Louisiana since 2002. This new reef will be the third of its kind built by CCA in Calcasieu Lake in recent years. In 2007, “Turner’s Bay Reef” was constructed. In 2012, CCA and their partners installed the “Brad Vincent Reef” in mid-Calcasieu Lake. Both projects have proven to provide exceptional fish habitat, and are popular amongst recreational anglers.

CCA Louisiana Chairman Bob Bush was on hand for the visit, and reflected on the importance of projects like this one.

“I have been fishing Big Lake for years, and I have seen us lose an incredible amount of reef Habitat,” said Bush. “I am proud of CCA, our local chapter, and our partners for stepping up to create this new habitat in an area where the reefs have been so badly diminished. We are committed to do more and more projects like this one in the future.”

Walther acknowledged project partners at LDWF, Shell, the Building Conservation Trust, Lotte Corp, Road Rock Recycling and DLS, all of whom were on-hand for the site visit.

“This is a great partnership between a conservation organization like CCA, a state agency like Wildlife and Fisheries and multiple corporate partners who came together to create fisheries habitat that will endure for generations,” said Walther. “We could not have done this without each and every one of our partners.”

Funding for the project was provided through CCA’s Building Conservation Trust, Shell, LDWF‘s Artificial Reef Development Fund, as well as in kind donations and services from the other project partners. Continued support of CCA’s habitat program is provided by the Paul Candies Family. Upon completion, marker buoys will be placed on the site so that anglers can locate the reefs. Exact GPS coordinates will be made available at ccalouisiana.com upon project completion.