By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Lake Lamar Bruce should once again contain fish by next spring and be fully stocked and open for fishing in three years.
Work on the new levee began Feb. 13 and Oxford’s Ja Marc Construction Co. Inc. has 395 days to complete the project. The lake was first drained in January 2011.
James Hinds, conservation supervisor for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said the lake doesn’t have to be fully finished before they begin adding small game fish.
“We hope to stock bream in the next fall and bass the next spring – once the bream begin reproducing,” Hinds said.
Once the pond has been stocked, the fish need two years to reproduce before fishing will be allowed.
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality raised the dam classification two years ago to a high hazard dam, meaning it had to meet higher standards.
The high hazard rating means the dam is near residential, commercial or industrial sites and must have an Emergency Action Plan that is reviewed and tested regularly.
“The dam was never leaking but Saltillo has been really developed over the years so they reclassified it and we’re having to just rebuild to meet the standards,” said Larry Pugh, assistant director of fisheries for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “We’re excited from a department standpoint because we get to redo the dam and we get a new fish population.”
Hinds said the fish population will be healthy and make for good fishing by the time the lake opens.
One unique addition the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will be adding is a small stocked pond beside the lake.
“It will be a bank-fishing area that we’ll be able to manipulate very easily,” Pugh said. “That will allow us to stock whatever we want in the small pond for people to catch from the bank. We’ve never done that at any lake. We might put trophy catfish in that pond for three months, we may put hybrid bream or sunfish. It will be very controlled and we can try different stocking combinations.”
The lake will contain bass, blue-gill, red-ear, channel catfish and triploid crappie.
The levee also will be moved in about 100 feet to make room for a much less steep slope. The slope will be four feet wide for each foot it is tall, making maintenance easier.
The emergency spillway also is being redesigned to activate during a significant high water event.