By Justin Fritscher/The Clarion-Ledger
RIDGELAND — Seven-year-old Gabriel Eastman woke up at 5:30 a.m. recently to fish just below the spillway of the Ross Barnett Reservoir.
“He loves it,” his mom, Cyndi Eastman, said. “He also fishes in the Reservoir behind our home.”
The Ridgeland boy casts his line baited with a cricket again and again. And with no luck by 7 a.m., there were no signs of giving up, despite the heat that came with the rising sunshine.
And the truth is, no matter the weather — hot or cold — people continually tote their fishing gear to the 33,000-acre lake in hopes of snagging a catfish or bass.
Although the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District does not keep data on fish caught from the Reservoir, Executive Director John Sigman said people are never shy about fishing along its banks or boating through the Reservoir’s many inlets.
Most heavily fished areas are in the upper lake north of Mississippi Highway 43 and just below the spillway. The upper lake is mostly patrolled by bass boats. By the dam, it’s mostly people fishing from the banks.
Gabriel and his 8-year-old friend, Grayson Rogers, were among those trying their luck.
“When I started reeling it in, it found my bait and took it,” Grayson said.
It’s a popular spot, said Steve Clark, Pearl River Valley’s special projects officer.
“They wouldn’t be out there if there wasn’t plenty of fish.”
Waynesboro resident Mackie Boykin and some friends were fishing below the spillway in their bass boat.
Boykin said he used to fish once a week before his health declined.
“One time, I caught over 700 pounds of catfish on a trip,” Boykin said. “I’m hoping to catch some more on this trip to stock up for the winter.”
Boykin, his wife and grandson are camping several days along the Reservoir in Goshen Springs with friends Gary and Audrey Beasley and their son.
It’s an annual trip for the Waynesboro residents, and the summer heat is worth enduring, he said.
“We’re fishing for anything that bites,” Audrey Beasley said while watching her husband launching a boat into the Pearl River. “It really is a good time out here.”