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Ross Barnett Reservoir

Known as "The Rez" among locals, the Ross Barnett Reservoir serves as Mississippi's largest drinking water source. Created when the Pearl River was dammed in 1963, this 33,000-acre body of water is a major recreational venue with over two million people visiting each year to enjoy pleasure boating, fishing, water skiing, and camping. The lake hosts five campgounds, sixteen parks, twenty-two boat ramp launches, and trails.

Located just twenty miles from Jackson, Mississippi along the Natchez Trace Parkway, this lake has seen a recent rise in private developments. Visitors can see new marinas, golf courses, and subdivisions around the lake. However, public developments also exist, such as the Pearl River State Wildlife Management Area.


Although the bones of a 40,000,000-year-old whale were discovered during the building of this reservoir, anglers are hard pressed to find a whale here today. But, Ross Barnett Reservoir does holds two state record fishing records -- in 1978, B. H. Toney captured an eighteen-pound, fourteen-ounce bowfin and Charles Cox snagged a 57-pound, twelve-ounce smallmouth buffalo here in 1983.

The Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks divides the lake into several sections for fishing reports. These sections include the Upper Main Lake, the Lower Main Lake, a section of the reservoir located above Highwy 43, Pelahatchie Bay, and the spillway. The focus is on crappie and bass in the main lake areas, and on crappie, bass, and catfish in the other sections.


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    Ross Barnett Reservoir Mississippi Coordinates:
32.4571N -90.0179W
Map It:
Lake Type:
Surface Area:
33,000 acres
Maximum Depth:
35 ft
297 ft
Normal Water Clarity:
3 ft
Major City:


Pleasure boaters can enjoy a wide expanse of water for sightseeing around the lake or for water skiing. However, no wake zones exist around the Coal Bluff, Ratliff Ferry, and Eddies Island areas. Boat launch ramps are located around the lake at campgrounds and parks.


Although flanked by Bienville National Forest, the campgrounds located in that refuge are over an hour's drive away. Other campgrounds, such as Timberlake, Goshen Springs, Coal Bluff, Leake County Water Park, and Low Head Dam, are located around the lake and offer both tent and RV camping. Various types of lodging also are available in Madison and in Jackson.

Review the Lake Resource Guide for additional lodging.


Ross Barnett Reservoir extends across Rankin and Madison Counties in Mississippi. Most areas of the lake are within an hour's drive from Jackson. Other towns in the area include Brandon, Ridgeland, and Madison.

Fun times at Ross Barnett Reservoir  Ross Barnett Reservoir

Ross Barnett Reservoir  Ross Barnett Reservoir

Average Temperatures Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg. High  56 Avg. High  61 Avg. High  69 Avg. High  76 Avg. High  83 Avg. High  90 Avg. High  92 Avg. High  92 Avg. High  87 Avg. High  77 Avg. High  67 Avg. High  58
Avg. Low  35 Avg. Low  39 Avg. Low  45 Avg. Low  52 Avg. Low  62 Avg. Low  69 Avg. Low  72 Avg. Low  71 Avg. Low  65 Avg. Low  53 Avg. Low  44 Avg. Low  37