The bad news: Lake Monroe, one of the oldest lakes in the State Lake system at 59 years old, will soon be drained dry and closed to fishing.
The good news: During the drawdown process, which is starting in November, there will be no limits on fishing on the lake near Aberdeen in Monroe County. Fishermen can catch and take all the fish they can.
The best news: After renovation is completed, the 99-acre lake will be restocked and should reopen with even better fishing available in about three years.
“Draining Lake Monroe will allow us to make needed repairs to the water level control structure, fishing piers and the boat ramp,” said Larry Pugh, fisheries bureau director for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. “After repairs are completed, we will restock the lake with bass, bream, crappie and catfish.”
Pugh, who once managed the lake as the Northeast Mississippi fisheries biologist, is one of Monroe’s biggest fans and knows its great potential. It was once a go-to place for the bass fisherman, but it developed a problem over the years that the renovation could alleviate.
“It was a lake you could always go and know you were going to get some bites,” he said. “Used to be we could get some quality fish, but that started changing.”
What happened was that the bass population exploded, resulting in a stunted growth pattern and the lake became better known for quantity and not quality.
Current Northeast biologist Tyler Stubbs explained the situation in a story earlier this year in Mississippi Sportsman magazine.
“The overpopulation is the result of a number of things,” Stubbs told writer David Hawkins. “Several years of good recruitment resulted in many fish in the 2- or 3-year-old age classes. Genetics and environment allow the bass to grow quickly, to a point. Once the bass population exceeds the readily available food sources, growth stops.”
As in most overcrowded bass lakes, Monroe did become a trophy bream fishery. Because the stunted bass put so much pressure on small bream, it allows the bigger adult panfish an opportunity to thrive.
During the drawdown, Pugh said fishermen will be limited to using only one rod and reel, or cane pole at a time and that no other fishing gear will be allowed.