Old Natchez Trace Lake — a.k.a. Trace Lake — at Trace State Park near Pontotoc will soon be drained and closed to the public during its renovation, according to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.

One of the crown jewels of the MDWFP’s State Lake and State Park Lake system, Trace Lake has some of the best bream and bass fishing in Mississippi.

But, it also had a dam that was beginning to fail.

MDWFP announced in 2016 that Trace Lake was being lowered to begin reconstruction of the downstream slope. Winter rains and the development of additional slides forced the contractor to postpone work until the area dried. 

Officials with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Dam Safety Division, inspected the site early this month and found that the original slide on the downstream slope has significantly worsened. Making matters worse, slides on the upstream side had reached a point where MDEQ thought that the dam core could be impacted. 

MDEQ directed MDWFP to immediately open the valve and drain the lake in preparation for dam repairs this summer.  

MDWFP said fishing will be allowed while the lake is draining and all creel and length limits will be removed. Fishing licenses and lake permits will be required. Anglers may only fish with one rod and reel or pole. No other fishing gear is allowed. 

After the main lake is drained, the area will be closed to public use during the renovation period. Other activities, including fishing in the smaller lake near the Park entrance, will remain open.

“We encourage our customers to continue to use our amenities like the hiking, mountain bike, and equestrian trails, as well as day-use areas, disc golf, and RV camping,” said Jennifer Head, Director of State Parks.

After repairs are complete, the lake will be allowed to fill and stocked with bass, bream, crappie, and catfish, and in about three or four years it will reopen to fishing. 

According to the MDWFP, anglers in Northeast Mississippi still have many options when it comes to fishing. Lake Lamar Bruce, Elvis Presley Lake, and Lake Lee at Tombigbee State Park are nearby popular angling destinations for small lake users. Pickwick Lake, Bay Springs Lake and the Tenn-Tom Waterway also provide big-water opportunities.