Trace Lake

Water levels at the Trace Lake are back to normal as evidenced by this photo taken last Saturday.

When are officials with the MS Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks going to open Trace State Park to fishing and skiing?

A broken levee kept the lake closed for more than four years. The dam repair was completed in December 2019 and rain was needed to re-fill the 600 acre lake.

It rained a lot in December, January, February, March, April, May and June. The lake is full.

So, when is the lake going to re-open?

“I get that question quite frequently,” recently replied Larry Pugh, Mississippi Director of Fisheries.

“If we can figure out how to safely re-open it in anticipation of three to five hundred boats and do so safely while practicing social distancing—you see our situation?” He asked. “Therein lies the problem.”

“We’ve got to have people there to deal with parking and launching. If you’ve never been to a lake opening, it’s something to behold. They are going to line up.”

“They did at the opening of Lake Lamar Bruce and all lakes we open. They’ll start lining up the night before. And we just hope they don’t line up out past old (two lane) Highway 6.”

“We normally bring in staff to assist with parking, boat launching because we’re trying to get them in fast as we can. We’ll have the staff there and given the magnitude of the importance of when Trace opens, I’m expecting a very, very large turn-out."

"So we’re trying to come up with a plan to maintain the safety of the people who are fishing. Once they get on the water and they can abide by the no more than half the boat’s capacity guide line."

"But the difficulty is trying to protect our park folks and the angling public through that whole process of getting in and out of the lake. That is what we’re trying to figure out the best way to do (with the coronavirus situation).”

“Honestly, right now we don’t have a definite date. Have you looked at the coronavirus numbers they are reporting each day? It’s going up every day."

"We’re looking at the safety and health of the anglers and the staff that will be affected when we open the lake. We have a method down, we know how to do it with huge numbers. We have a stream lined process."

"But we can’t handle it as we usually do and have the safety of the public and our staff in mind under the current circumstances."

"I know people want to fish Trace Lake, we’re just trying to make the best decision to protect the health of everyone involved. Our discussions will continue and we’ll come up with some more ideas."

We will figure it out, but right now I don’t have a date in mind. I just want to keep the safety of everyone from coming in close contact and you can’t do that and open a lake.”

“That’s because it involves directing traffic, assisting with boat launching, assisting with parking. We work to get them in and out as quickly as we can, but we’ve got to be cognizant of the people and staff that are there and the interaction involved. And we’re trying to come up with a way to overcome that problem. “

Although there's no date set to open Trace Lake, Pugh said the good news is the fishing should be good based on studies that were completed in March and April.

"It wasn’t surprising the Red Ear and Blue Gill looked really really good. The bass were either small or big , no in between."

"Once we do get a date to re-open we'll probably look at some pretty aggressive lengths and creel limits . At least starting out.

"These fish will be pretty easy to catch and very vulnerable to harvest. So we’ll probably go with a reduced limit on how many you can keep for all species. We learned that over the past 20 years."

"Anglars, especially brim and crappie fishermen, they are prone to keep what they catch, which is good. But we’re probably looking at something more restrictive limits than statewide regulations."

"We found that anglers go several days in a row if fish are biting. We're looking at some more restrictive length and bag limits on all four species, which includes bass, brim crappie and catfish."

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