HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - McGill's Lake in Harrison County got a thumbs-up from a survey team Tuesday. That private lake is one of tens of thousands throughout the state of Mississippi. But some property owners may not realize they can receive a free assessment of their pond or small lake.
"Up the hill please, and let's get it good and straight," said biologist Barry Pessoney, as he helped drag a seine net into the water.
He's with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Pessoney and his team are surveying the health of McGills's Lake off Highway 53.
"A seine net is used to get a representative sample of fish," he explained.
The size and type of fish provide clues about the health of this pond.
"Over there, we had plenty of bass. We're not seeing the bass here," said the biologist, as he sorted through the samples.
"We check for the ph of the water. We check the fertility of it and we also check the population to make sure it is in good balance," explained Tyree Harrington, with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
"Okay, so we got a bass that time. These are this year's bass or the young of the year bass," said Pessoney.
Neighborhood youngsters enjoyed an impromptu science lesson along the lake shore.
"This is a bigger algae. This is a kara or musk grass. Smell that. Kinda stinky?" asked Pessoney, as he passed around a sample of the lake vegetation.
While a seine sample can provide a glimpse of the fish population, those who fish this lake can provide an even better survey.
"I normally just fish off the pier," said 11-year-old Cooper Martin. "I just like to reel the fish in. Sometimes I cook them and eat 'em. They're good."
Neighbors who live near the water are happy to hear their lake is healthy.
"All of our kids have always come and they want to fish. And it's a good activity for them. It really makes them smile and feel good about themselves," said Colleen Sims.
Throughout Mississippi, there are more than 160,000 bodies of water that are 100 acres or less. And land owners can contact their local soil and water conservation office to request a survey of their pond or small lake.
McGill's Lake got a thumbs-up from the survey.
The Harrison County soil and water conservation office is located in Gulfport. The phone number is (228) 831-1647.