A much-requested change in no-wake zones on the upper Pearl River part of Barnett Reservoir has been given first approval.

The Pearl River Valley Water Supply District Board of Directors on Thursday voted to make several modifications that have been requested by boaters, most notably bass fishermen.

The regulatory process requires a 30-day comment period before the board takes final action. 

Chief among the changes is adopting a seasonal approach to many of the areas, and it is unclear if the changes could be implemented before the B.A.S.S. Central Open bass tournament begins Oct. 17.

Among the changes proposed:

• Suspending the no-wake zones at two popular sandbars — Eddie’s Island and Flag Island — from Sept. 15 to April 15 each year (the areas would return to no-wake status April 15 through Sept. 15).

• Shortening the Coal Bluff Park no-wake zone to just the area around the boat ramp during that same time period. The upper end of the zone will be extended back the current site north of the park’s popular sandbar beach April 15 to Sept. 15.

• Permanently shortening the Flag Island no-wake zone by moving the lower end of the zone north to the end of the sandbar (a reduction of about 600 yards) and the Ratliff Ferry no-wake zone, moving the lower end back a few hundred yards closer to the boat ramp.

“Boaters — and especially fishermen — have been asking us to revisit the no-wake zone issue for several years,” reservoir general manager John Sigman said. “It is the general consensus that during the off-season times after Labor Day until the spring there is no need for some of the no-wake zones, and that others can be shortened.

“These changes will certainly appease bass fishermen, who say the long no-wake zones from Ratliff Ferry adds over an hour round trip to the long run upriver.”

Sigman said reservoir staff worked with an upriver advisory committee made up of representatives of different user groups like hunters, campers, pleasure boaters and fishermen.

“This is a great move with the no-wake zones,” said committee member Brent Bailey of Carthage, “and I think it will breathe more life back into the upper-river area.”

The Pearl River Valley Water Supply District will take comments until Sept. 15. Comments can be sent by email to Comments@therez.ms.