(Arkabutla Lake, MS) It’s the easiest fishing you’ll ever see.
Dozens of people are scooping them up by the hands fulls.
Ollie Mae Jones grew up fishing here and drove down from Memphis for the easy pickings, ”You just use your net and put ‘em in your container.”
There’s crappie, bream, catfish, and huge german cobb.
”I have about one hundred pounds,” said another woman.
Why is this happening? The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shut down the Arkabutla spillway for the inspection they perform every five years.
Technically, what these folks are doing is against Mississippi Game and Fish regulations.
But, every five years Game and Fish looks the other way to help the Corps get the channel cleaned out.
Ernie Lentz with the Corps, says it’s a big job that takes about two or three weeks, ”We’ll close the outlet channel doors, we’ll dry it up, close the gates and dry up the area and go in an inspect.”
Everything from the lake to the spillway gets a close look and careful fixing.
”If we find anything, we’ll repair it and then we also look at our gates and make sure everything is fine with them,” said Lentz.
In the meantime, people from miles around come here to scoop up enough for meals to last for months.
”There’s about five of us, so we’re gonna divide ‘em So we’re gonna have a mess of ‘em. Oh yes, a BIG mess,” Jones explained.
In these parts a big mess of fish makes for one heck of a fish fry.