The Lake

The Lake Hdr Photo

So why is the word "bayou" in our name? The reason is simple; we are not a natural lake. Instead, the lake is the result of the bayou being dammed and the back-fill from that event created a lake.

For most people, the word bayou conveys the idea of a very slow-moving creek filled with plants and assorted reptiles. It is a word very much associated with the south although technically bayous could occur anywhere. A lake on the other hand is a body of standing water. We are a little bit of both. In 1910 the railroad dammed off the western end of the bayou. Over the decades the swamps that surrounded that slow moving waterway back-filled to our present lake. We do not have any flow from a river or stream into the lake, instead all of the water is the result of rainfall and run-off. As a result the lake level fluctuates quite a bit from in the spring when rainfall tends to increase lake levels to late summer when the lake level is usually at its lowest. A good indicator of the change is to look at the cypress trees in the lake, there is a distinct color change from where most of the tree is often underwater to the usually dry sections.

Does Black Bayou Lake move? In some ways it does – winds will drive water further up into the cattails along the bank and provide a bit of a surface movement but it doesn’t really flow. What changes is what we see out there. 

In the winter the lake looks rather barren – bare trunks and branches of the cypress and tupelo although in areas these branches may be covered with egrets and cormorants. Coots are a common site off the pier and their calls and a constant soundtrack. Under the water life is teaming with all the fish and other aquatic animals, most of whom may be burrowed into the mud to wait for warmer weather.

In the spring life re-emerges, the alligators and turtles reappear to sun themselves and warm up. Plants start to green up the giant pads of the water lilies return and unfortunately the glossy leaves of invasive water hyacinth. If you look closely you may see the variety of macro-invertebrates that provide food for hungry critters. Dragonflies reappear and their shed skins can be seen on all sorts of surfaces. Birds are all around and the fishermen reappear in larger numbers.

Late summer unfortunately brings the heat and the whines of mosquitoes and lake levels drop. The lake can appear overtaken by green and the vegetation makes it more difficult to navigate if you are a human in a boat. Fall the leaves and needles on the trees change color, lily pads deteriorate and break up and the birds change, beginning their migration.

So does the bayou still flow? Maybe not in the sense of water moving in one direction but the water is flowing around in the lake, embracing the seasonal changes and tides of nature.