By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – If you catch them, you can keep them – all of them.
With preparation under way for a new levee at Lake Lamar Bruce, anglers there have no daily limit on what they take in.
That’s because the state Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks wants people to hook as many fish as they can before the lake is closed for construction.
Until last week the limit was 10 fish per person.
Jason Allen was on the lake fishing Wednesday afternoon. Allen had already caught seven bass, but with the bag limit lifted, he decided to see how many he could reel in.
“This lake is full of bass,” said Allen. “I’ve come out here and caught 15 and 20 and had to throw some pretty nice fish back. So I’m going to enjoy the limitless fishing until it’s all dried up.”
The 300-acre, state-owned lake is being drained slowly, but Saltillo Mayor Bill Williams said he expects the spillway to be opened completely within a few weeks to start emptying the lake.
Most of the fish will be swept out through the spillway, but Larry Pugh with the DWFP said the more people who fish at the lake, the easier the process will be.
“We want people to go out and fish as much as they want until the lake is closed,” said Pugh. “They can take home as many fish as they like.”
Once the water is drained, which could be as soon as Dec. 1 depending on rainfall, Lake Lamar Bruce will be closed. Pugh said he hopes work on the levee can start when the weather warms in May.
Even though the levee was in no danger of failing, funding from the state made the rebuilding project possible, so officials decided to proceed now. Pugh said repairs for the levee have been in the works for years.
“The Legislature got us funding this year to start the project, so that’s why we’re doing it now,” said Pugh. “The Lake Lamar Bruce levee was reclassified by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, which made it a priority for long-term repair.”
According to Williams, DEQ graded the levee as the highest hazard levee in the state.
“The dam is weak in some places and it is leaking through the levee in some places as well,” said Williams. “I don’t think it’s in any danger of breaking but if it did, downtown Saltillo would be under water.”
Lake Lamar Bruce was built in 1962, and Williams said that was the last time work was done on the levee. Pugh said there isn’t a set lifespan for a levee.
Williams said people have been expressing their disappointment that the lake will be out of operation for such a long period of time.
“But they understand that this has to be done and that this will make our lake better for future generations,” he said.
The lake will essentially be new when it’s done, Pugh said. There is no definite timeline for the levee’s completion, but he said that if everything goes perfectly, construction could be complete by May 2012.
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.