In the spring of 2007, the Grand River Dam Authority’s Rush for Brush program made its debut on Lake Hudson, with a small workshop attended by a few volunteers. With the end goal of enhancing the lake’s fishery, GRDA staff and several volunteers spent the day building artificial fish habitat structures out of materials supplied by GRDA.
Simulating natural brush piles, these structures provide protection to fry and fingerlings while staying in place and lasting longer than natural brush piles.
This fisheries enhancement helps GRDA to meet its mission as a good steward for the natural resources under its control. And, it helps to bring you the best in fishing on Grand Lake.
Today, nearly 15 years, hundreds of volunteers, and dozens of workshops later, the program’s end goal has not changed, even though its popularity and impact across the GRDA lakes region has grown exponentially.
In fact, Rush for Brush was recognized with the “State Government Program” award from Keep Oklahoma Beautiful in 2017 and, in 2018, it won the “Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters” award from the National Hydropower Association.
However, the real success of the fisheries enhancement program — driven by all those volunteers over the years — is not in recognition but in results.
To date, roughly 17,000 structures have been placed in GRDA lake waters. That is large enough to cover roughly 11 acres of lakebed with artificial habitats that continue to benefit countless numbers of fish.
At a workshop in the spring of 2021, over 50 volunteers built 600 structures, destined for GRDA lake waters. Then, in September, at another event on the shore of Lake Hudson, where it all began, 750 more structures were built.
But the program is not limited to Grand and Hudson lakes.
In October 2021, GRDA and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) teamed up with students from Stilwell, Oklahoma, to place 300 artificial fish habitat structures into GRDA’s W.R. Holway Reservoir, part of the Salina Pumped Storage Project, near Locust Grove. Those structures were deployed in 28 clumps to resemble large piles of hardwood trees. That took place while GRDA had lowered the reservoir for a scheduled inspection.
“The drawdown of the Holway reservoir in 2021 provided a unique opportunity to place structures in the exact locations and water depths for them to be most effective,” said GRDA Biologist Dustin Browning. “These structures will provide both cover for fish and also fishing opportunities for visitors to Holway, whether they fish both from the banks or from a watercraft.”
Those interested in seeing the exact locations of these structures in GRDA waters can do so by visiting the Rush for Brush page online (www.grda.com/rush-for-brush). There you will find a map of locations as well as GPS coordinates.
GRDA plans to continue the program in 2022, with workshop dates to be announced later this year.
GRDA is Oklahoma’s largest public power electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees, and efficiency.