Mississippi fishermen will soon welcome back an old friend, and getting reacquainting will be fun.

Lake Lamar Bruce, a few miles north of Tupelo in Saltillo, will reopen to fishing in May after an extended closure for renovation, repairs and restocking. One of the most popular stops in the State Lakes program of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, the 300-acre lake has been closed since 2010 to fix a faulty water control structure.

During the five years, MDWFP workers did more than fix the structure. They basically gave the entire lake a makeover, adding a lot of fish-attracting cover, adding both wooden and earthen piers, digging channels and reworking boat ramps. It was restocked with Florida largemouth bass, bluegill, redear, Magnolia crappie and channel catfish.

 “I went out and looked at it a few times during the period when they were doing the lake bottom work, and I was amazed,” said Gene Watkins of Tupelo. “I moved up here in 2010, and only got to fish it once before it closed. I had heard about it for years while I lived in Jackson and knew it to be a great bream lake.

“I fly-fish and that’s what had me so interested. I read a lot about how people called it the best public lake for fly-fishermen either casting flies or rolling out crickets. I hope that’s the case in the future.”

MDWFP announced that the lake will have a soft reopening on Saturday (May 2) with a children’s fishing rodeo open to fishermen ages 15 and under. It will start at 7 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. All youth must be accompanied by an adult who is at least 21 years old and holds a valid Mississippi fishing license.

Lake Lamar Bruce will reopen to the general public on Wednesday, May 6, at 6 a.m.

In an attempt to protect the first-year class of Florida bass to maturity, the MDWFP has established a 16- to 22-inch slot limit on bass. Any fish between 16 and 22 inches must be immediately released.

“The slot limit will protect the initial stocking of bass and allow them to reach their trophy potential,” MDWFP biologist Tyler Stubbs said. He added that the daily creel limit will be 10 bass per angler, but only one can exceed 22 inches. The rest have to be under 16 inches.

“This will allow anglers to harvest plenty of bass for the dinner table, plus one big fish for their wall,” Stubs said.

Other daily creel limits will allow 30 crappie, 100 bream and 10 catfish per day.

For more information, visit mdwfp.com online or call (601) 432-2200.