Fishing & Boating


Update #2: Arkabutla Dam failure NOT imminent as USACE Vicksburg District assesses conditions, temporary solutions


Published May 15, 2023

VICKSBURG, Miss. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District teams are assessing conditions and exploring temporary solutions at Arkabutla Dam following the May 8 emergency declaration.

Dam failure or breach are currently NOT imminent. USACE defines an imminent breach as: “the emergency level when time has run out, and the dam has breached, is breaching, or is about to breach. It is not usually possible to determine what amount of time a complete breach will take to develop. Therefore, once a decision is made that there is no time to prevent a breach, the emergency warning must be issued.”

The district continues to release water from the dam to achieve an elevation of 210 feet by approximately June 20, which will significantly decrease the risk of a failure. The controlled release reduces flood risk for surrounding low-lying areas and homes.

Dam releases flow into the Coldwater River, which is expected to crest at Sarah and Marks, Mississippi, in Tate and Quitman counties early this week. Sarah will crest at 12 feet and Marks at 34 feet. The district expects stages to remain at crest stages through at least the next few weeks. The district will monitor conditions based on future local rainfall and length of time releases are required from Arkabutla. Property owners near the river’s tributaries should plan to move livestock and heavy equipment as a precaution.

Current Interim Risk Reduction Measures (IRRM), or temporary solutions, include both structural modifications, increased instrumentation and monitoring, and emergency action planning. The district continues to assess the repairs timeline and will provide updates as they become available.

The district’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) activated after crews discovered a depression near the toe of the dam, where the dam meets the earth, which could cause severe foundation loss and a breach if left untreated.

Additional information about Arkabutla Dam (identification number MS01496) can be found at the National Inventory of Dams (NID) at

Public safety is the district’s top priority. The district remains committed to working with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), local law enforcement agencies, and surrounding counties and cities as the situation develops.

To report potential emergency concerns at the dam, contact the EOC at 601-631-5367. Specialists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For information about recreation closures or reservations, contact the Arkabutla Lake Field Office at 662-562-6261.

Fishing Report

Arkabutla - 5/23/2023 5:59:18 PM
Species Detail
Largemouth Bass Bass will be moving out via ditches and creeks as the water falls. Fish cover on creek channel edges or deeper cover (brush tops, stake beds, timber, etc.) with “search baits” like buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, or bladed jigs, but have another rod rigged with soft plastics to follow up on missed strikes. Secondary points in coves may also hold bass. No reports on main lake points yet.
Crappie Best luck has been fishing jigs and/or minnows near the bottom 8 - 10 ft deep in creek mouths or in standing timber. A few folks have tried crankbaits without much success yet. Use bigger baits and/or fish deeper to target larger crappie. Replace treble hooks with single hooks and/or pinch down the barbs to make releasing short fish faster and less damaging; it does no good to release dead fish.
Bream No reports. Fish redworms or waxworms under a bobber in any cover (riprap, rocks, brush tops, stake beds, etc.).
Catfish Catfishing has been good. Fish worms or stinkbaits in the river or creeks if there is any rainfall runoff. Otherwise, fish various natural baits over main lake flats. The fast fall will make grabbling challenging.
White Bass Cast jigs or small crankbaits in the river and creeks over a sandy bottom or over hard-bottomed, sandy main lake points. There are a few yellow bass in the lake. Neither white nor yellow bass have any size or number limits.

The water is falling quickly, pulling fish out of the trees and bushes. No matter what the Tuesday fishing report says, always check the links in the "Water Level" section for the lake's current level and if it's rising or falling. A big rain can change conditions quickly. The water level here is rarely stable; adjust to current conditions like the fish do. Except for catfish, fishing is usually better on a slow fall than a fast rise. Water falling, fish deeper; water rising, fish shallower.

Special Fishing Regulations


Species Type Length To Release
Crappie (combined black and white) Minimum Length Limit 12 inches and under

Creel Limits (per person, per day)

Type Amount Additional Information
Crappie (combined black and white) 15 There is a 40 crappie per boat limit for boats with 3 or more anglers.

Anglers may use no more than 4 poles per person and no more than 2 hooks or lures per pole. 


The spillway had one gate open 19.0 ft, two gates open 3.0 ft each (4500 cfs) Tuesday. Best luck in the spillway is when some water is being released, but not too much. The spillway area is closed to fishing because of the dam repair. Spillway gate openings, flow rates, and spillway water elevations can be obtained at or (click on 24-hour change for picture explanation of gate flow, spillway flow, etc.).

All fish captured and kept with dip or landing nets, cast nets, boat mounted scoops, wire baskets, minnow seines, and minnow traps in the spillway areas bordered by rip rap must be immediately placed on ice or in a dry container. Game fish caught with these gears must be released. This regulation was enacted to reduce the potential of transferring harmful Asian carps to the reservoir or other waters.

The 12-inch crappie length limit does not apply to the reservoir spillway, but the spillway has a 15-crappie creel limit.

Water Level

Water level 222.97, falling 0.5 ft/day, 3.0 ft over rule curve Tuesday AM. Expect rapid water level rises and drawdowns as rain events happen and the Corps tries to get the lake down to repair the dam. Emergency spillway level is 238.3. For water level information, call (662)562-6261 or check at for a table or for a graph or for both (click on 24-hour change for picture explanation of gate flow, spillway flow, etc.). Be sure to check the date on the table; it is usually updated midday.

Additional Information

Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Fisheries Biologists use various sampling methods to assess the fish populations in the State’s waters. Sampling results for selected water bodies are summarized in Reel Facts Sheets.

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