After years of silt buildup Rector Brake has become a joke.

Fishermen looking for a bass at the formerly popular fishing spot are more likely to get a propeller bent or have to get out of the boat to push the boat out of the muck it can become stuck in. But that all changed on Thursday, Jan. 17 when the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approved $120,000 to spend on a joint project with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency.

Many Maumelle residents thought that was the last hurdle to clean up the popular area.

But Mayor Mike Watson said there’s still a lot of work to do and the money will help but that this has been a seven-year project and much remains to be done.

The grant money comes from the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership. SARP is a regional collaboration of natural resource and science agencies, conservation organizations and private interests developed to strengthen the management and conservation of aquatic resources in the southeastern United States. The AGFC will dredge openings in the two areas to increase the overall depth of the backwater. Cost of the project is $120,000.

Rector Brake is a popular 87-acre backwater area for fishing near Maumelle. It is located on the north side of the Arkansas River and east of the peninsula and north of the island that is within Maumelle city limits. It is a popular area for black bass, crappie and catfish. Coal Pile is the one of the most popular backwater areas for black bass fishing in the lower Arkansas River. The winning fish from the annual Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza often comes from this area. It is also a top spot for catfish and crappie anglers. Coal Pile is located near Dumas in southeast Arkansas.

Watson said, “The announcement is very good news. Maumelle and its residents have been working on this effort for about ten years and this SARP grant is the first funding of dollars from a source other than Maumelle and the property owners along the Rector Brake area. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has been a great supporter of this project and were instrumental in the grant being awarded. Mr. Jeff Quinn, AGFC State Stream Management Biologist has worked on this project alongside us for the last six years to make this project a reality.”

“This news does not mean that the dredging will be able to start immediately. We are currently waiting on a Section 404 permit and Section 10 permit from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. The work will also require state certifications under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. After the 404 permit is issued, a no-rise study of the disposal area will be required along with easements for the disposal pipes to the disposal area. We are one more step forward in making the Rector Brake area a viable fishery with adequate water depths for boat access to the area again,” Watson said.

Watson and members of the Rector Brake Coalition have worked for years in an attempt to get the Rector Brake cleaned up. They have begged and borrowed equipment looking for a means of dredging the silt that accumulates in the area because of the unusual geographic features with an island and a peninsula and water flowing between the two creating an unusual silt situation. Study’s have suggested creative ways of engineering filters or valves that open and close as needed to control the buildup over time.

Last year the Game and Fish Commission acquired a surplus dredging operation and proponents had hoped it might be used to do the tedious work of sucking up the silt to enhance the level of water in the brake.

In its news release the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission referred to the area as Rector Break but the Corps and other federal entities have always spelled the feature as Brake, as has the Monitor for some time.