Lake Mary Crawford set to reopen

Fishermen will soon have access again to one of the state’s storied hot spots when the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, reopens one of the crown jewels of its state lakes system in May.

Lake Mary Crawford at Monticello is tentatively scheduled for a youth-only opening at 7 a.m. on Saturday, May 22. It will be open to all fishermen at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, May 26.

The 128-acre lake has been closed since 2018 for renovation, including replacing the water-control structure and restocking.

“It’s great to get that lake back,” said James Thomas, who lives in Lawrence County about 10 miles from the lake. “Mary Crawford was always one of the best bluegill and bream lakes in the area, if not the state or country. I’ve been fishing there for so long, and I can’t begin to tell you how many bream me and my family have eaten that came out of that lake.”

Bream

Once known as a fly-fisherman’s dream for its bedding bream, Thomas said it was a year-round hot spot, no matter the bait.

“I never fooled around much with a fly rod because I was catching them so fast on a cricket or a worm,” he said. “I tried it a few times with (Jim Foerste, former lake manager), and he could sure catch them on a fly when they were bedding in April and May, maybe June. But he wasn’t catching them as fast as I could on a cricket and a light spinning rod, and the rest of the year, I was hammering them on the bottom in 6 to 8 feet on worms.

“I sure hope when it opens back up it comes back strong on bream like it has always had been, and I hope all my old hot spots are still hot.”

According to MDWFP, the lake will open with these limits:

  • Largemouth bass: 10 per angler per day with a 16-inch to 22-inch slot limit. All bass between 16 and 22 inches must be released immediately, and only one of the 10 fish kept per day can exceed 22 inches.
  • Bluegill and redear sunfish: A total of 25 in combination per angler per day.
  • Crappie: 15 per angler per day.
  • Catfish: 10 per angler per day.

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Bobby Cleveland
About Bobby Cleveland 1344 Articles
Bobby Cleveland has covered sports in Mississippi for over 40 years. A native of Hattiesburg and graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Cleveland lives on Ross Barnett Reservoir near Jackson with his wife Pam.

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