State workers getting ready for prime fishing time in area

Larry Pugh is the District 1 fisheries coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks, which took over operation of Elvis Presley Lake Feb. 1.

With warmer weather on the horizon, he's currently focused on preparing area fishing lakes for a flood of people ready to get out of the house and start fishing.

He recently took time out with Daily Journal reporter M. Scott Morris to provide an update on District 1's parks and lakes.

Q: What's the difference between a state fishing lake and a state park?

A: MDWFP owns and operates 24 fishing lakes throughout the state. We intensively manage these lakes for the sole purpose of providing good fishing. Additional services we offer include camping (RV hookups and tent), picnicking and pavilion rental. The state parks offer a variety of recreational opportunities that do not focus only on fishing, although many feature excellent lakes. Cabins are available, as well as playgrounds, disc golf courses, nature trails, pavilions, etc.

Q: How many state fishing lakes and state parks are located in District 1.

A: We currently have five state fishing lakes and also six state parks located in District 1. The fishing lakes include Tippah County Lake, Lake Lamar Bruce, Elvis Presley Lake, Lake Monroe and Oktibbeha County Lake. The parks include J.P. Coleman State Park, Trace State Park, Tombigbee State Park, Tishomingo State Park, Lake Lowndes State Park and Legion State Park.

Q: How many people use state lakes and parks each year?

A: We had approximately 75,000 visitors to our state fishing lakes last year. Almost 20,000 of these visits were at District 1 state fishing lakes. Our parks had more than 4.2 million visitors statewide last year, with about 550,000 visiting parks in District 1.

Q. What is the busiest time of the year for state fishing lakes?

A: Mid-March through the end of June is typically our busiest time of the season.

Q. How are MDWFP personnel preparing for spring?

A: Right now, we are performing some routine maintenance on our campgrounds, fishing piers and boat ramps. As spring progresses, our focus will shift to maintaining the grounds.

Q: What changes have occurred since MDWFP took over operation of Elvis Presley Lake?

A: MDWFP assumed ownership and operation of Elvis Presley Lake on Feb. 1. The fee schedule at the lake is now in-line with our other area state fishing lakes. We now charge for fishing, boat launching, camping and pavilion rental. There is no entrance fee at Elvis Presley Lake, so the public can enter the lake to picnic, ride bikes, etc. at no charge.

Q: Why was the District 1 office moved to Elvis Presley Lake?

A: Our goal is to provide easy access to local MDWFP representatives. We can handle the day-to-day questions or problems that may arise at a local, rather than statewide, level.

Q: Are there any long-range plans for Elvis Presley Lake?

A: It's a beautiful lake that has good bream fishing, good catfishing and an abundant population of small bass. We will be focusing on access areas (fishing piers and additional bank access), maintaining and improving the current facilities (campground, off-road bicycle trail) and also looking at habitat improvements and lake productivity.

Q: Is there a contact number where people can learn more?

A: Fishing information – as well as information about hunting, law enforcement or wildlife issues – is available through our District 1 office at Elvis Presley Lake. Give us a call at (662) 840-5172 or come by our office. We are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.