Lake Making Comeback

Lake Tom Bailey was closed several years ago because of damage to the spillway. Funding to repair it finally came through the state Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks in 2002. That work was completed this past summer.

Officials from the fish hatchery added bluegills in the past couple of weeks. Five-month-old catfish fingerlings, 6,000 of them were added to the lake Friday morning.

"This lake's been closed for a while. When it reopens, these fish will be a catchable size. In two years, these catfish will be a pound plus size. They'll be just right for the frying pan," said James Dominici, manager of the fish hatchery. "And you know, you should have some nice size bluegills and some healthy size large mouth bass."

Large-mouth bass will be added in the spring.

Lake Tom Bailey, named for a former governor from Lauderdale County, is the site of the largest catfish ever caught in Mississippi.

State Sen. Videt Carmichael calls the lake an important recreational spot.

"I think it's only right that we make it as successful as we can. And restocking this is just another step in the procedure. I remember myself fishing out here, especially along the dam, fly fishing for bream. So I know that there's going to be a lot of other people who want a chance to come have fun and just enjoy what we have here in Mississippi."

Because time is needed for the fish to grow and create a stable population for fishing, Lake Tom Bailey will not open to the public until 2006.