Lake to be Revived

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The site that the Department of Wildlife discussed with county supervisors on Thursday is Lake Tom Bailey, where the largest catfish ever taken in Mississippi was caught a few years ago. A shift in the dirt on the backside of the spillway dam caused its closure.

This year the Mississippi Legislature gave the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks $650,000 to repair it. Dennis Riecke, Fisheries Coordinator for the state told the board work will probably start in July.

"Perhaps we could stock bluegills in late December, early January, bass next spring," said Riecke. "And if the fish grow at a good rate and a rate we're seeing across the state, we will open it up to fishing in the spring or summer of 2005."

Only little fish will be used and it will take time for them to grow.

"Normally we stock with fingerlings and we want them to spawn and develop age classes so that they'll be stable and can withstand harvest before we open up the lake to fishing," Riecke said. "To stock it with larger fish requires us to hold them on the hatchery for longer."

Tom Bailey will be stocked with bluegills, catfish and largemouth bass. But the willows that have grown up in the lakebed since the lake was drained will not be removed.

"If we can remove some of the willows easily we'll do that," said Riecke. "Within a year or two of permanent flooding, those willow trees will die and you won't have leaves on them. You'll have branches which will decompose also."

Bids will be opened Jun. 25 and the successful bidder will have 150 days to finish the work.