Fishermen Want Access To Power Plant Lake

Black Creek Lake has the look of a state park paradise. But its primary mission is strictly industrial; providing cooling waters for Mississippi Power's nearby Plant Daniel.

"Oh, it's fantastic. You've got some fish down here you wouldn't believe," said Larry Debord, as he cast a plastic lizard bass lure from the bridge on Big Point Road.

Debord frequently fishes the lake. But access is restricted to two county road bridges. Anglers cast off the bridge or over the barbed wire that surrounds the lake.

"There is so much recreation right here. There's too many people that love to fish. I think what they need to do is open it up to the public like they originally said they were gonna do," said Debord.

He's not alone in his belief that past promises were made that the lake would be open for public recreation.

"And everybody here is still mad about it. They're fuming. They come in talking to me about it," said Darren Suthoff.

Suthoff owns Big River Sporting Goods store in Cumbest Bluff. He hears fishermen frustrations several days a week. Many of his customers who buy bass lures would love to try them out on Black Creek Lake.

"And people have tried to sneak in and fish it. And it's a shame you have to sneak in to fish it. But it's that good a fishery to where people want to fish it," says Suthoff.

Mississippi Power is aware of the desire by some to open the entire lake. But its agreement with the county is quite specific.

"Says that this facility will be used for only this purpose. The purpose it was designed and built for. And that is a cooling lake and wastewater treatment," said Cindy Webb, a public affairs representative for Mississippi Power.

Along with its scenic beauty, the 500 acre lake is also home to some of the biggest bass in South Mississippi. That's why so many fishermen would like to see public access expanded beyond the two bridges.

"It's great. It really is. It's a fantastic place to fish," said Debord.

As for any past promises the lake would be open for recreation, Mississippi Power isn't aware of any such agreement.

"I am not aware of any commitment or promise that was made to use that facility for anything other than a cooling lake or wastewater treatment," said Webb.

Several bass fishing clubs are working to try and get a larger portion of Black Creek Lake open to the public.

The issue will be discussed Tuesday night at a meeting of the Big Cedar Bassmasters. The club meets at 7pm at the East Central Community Center in Hurley.