Lake Tangipahoa, Mississippi, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Mississippi - Capital-River Region -

Also known as:  Percy Quin Reservoir, Tangipahoa Reservoir

Lake Tangipahoa is usually a quiet, unassuming little lake nestled within Percy Quin State Park in Mississippi’s Capital-River region. The 554-acre lake belongs to the state and serves as the recreational centerpiece of the very popular state park. But, every once in awhile, even the quietest member of the lake community creates a stir. Lake Tangipahoa did just that in late August of 2012 when excess water from Hurricane Isaac supplied it with more water than the 70-year-old earthen dam could handle. The sudden influx of a huge amount of water from upstream brought the water level up four feet over its usual elevation and began to cause damage to the dam itself. The alert governments of both Mississippi and Louisiana issued evacuation orders for nearly 60,000 people downstream, many of whom weren’t even aware the dam existed. There was excitement and disruption all around until state officials managed to reduce water levels by a combination of pumping and breaching a side wall of the dam to allow the water to flow into a nearby wooded area. Within 48 hours, the crisis was past . . .but Lake Tangipahoa is now a household name.

Lake Tangipahoa was created in 1940 when the Civilian Conservation Corps cleared the land for one of Mississippi’s first state parks. The lake is strictly recreational. An early dam failure in 1942 resulted in a new, improved dam that was completed in 1945. The dam was beginning to show its age, however, and a major drawdown of the water level was planned for late 2012 to allow for repairs to the dam. Hurricane Isaac forced a change in the scheduled maintenance.

Lake Tangipahoa is formed from the upstream flows of the Tangipahoa River which empties into Lake Pontchartrain. The name of the river is derived from the Native American village name, Tangibao or ‘corn gatherers’, whose inhabitants were there when French explorers wrote of the region as early as 1683. In the intervening centuries a large number of people have come to live within the river basin, and the river downstream is a popular kayak and canoe trekking location.

Residents and visitors to the McComb, MS area know the lake well. The popular 1700-acre park offers camping for both RV and tent campers, some sites with cable TV hook-ups, a swimming beach, rental cabins with heat and air conditioning, laundry facilities, playgrounds, picnic areas, a swimming pool, camp store, tennis courts and playing fields. The beautiful and challenging Quail Hollow 18-hole public golf course rents golf villas for a golfing holiday. A well-marked eight-mile nature trail circles Lake Tangipahoa and offers excellent wildlife watching and birding opportunities. The park is included on the Mississippi State Parks Interstate 55 Corridor Birding Trail along with a huge list of bird that may be seen there. There is also a 9-unit lodge/motel that overlooks the lake. A marina offers boat launch facilities and sells supplies for anglers and boaters. All types of boating are allowed; the lake is popular for water skiing, jet skiing, tubing, wake boarding, sailing canoeing and kayaking.

Fishing is a big attraction at Lake Tangipahoa. Largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill or breem, redear sunfish and channel catfish are stocked regularly. The irregular shoreline and wetland areas offer plenty of spawning beds, while the varying bottom structure allows for a number of favored ‘fishing holes’ where the big fish lurk. Water depth varies from an average of seven feet to 20 feet near the dam. Spring and fall are likely the most popular times for anglers as the crowds thin out and the fish are more active in the cooler water. A modern fish cleaning station is provided with filet boards. The entire state park is designed to provide all types of recreation to every possible visitor, so reservations may be necessary for campsites on busy weekends and are always a necessity for golf villas, camping cabins and motel rooms.

Lake Tangipahoa is only about 80 miles south of Jackson, and 100 miles north of New Orleans. This makes the lake an easy weekend getaway and adds to its popularity. Those who visit for longer periods of time will find that the nearby small city of McComb offers a bit of everything. Known for its Southern hospitality, McComb offers a full complement of restaurants and evening entertainment venues. A complete railroad museum greets visitors most afternoons and holds a wealth of history for railroad buffs. Children especially enjoy seeing the antique engines and watch the model train layout for hours. McComb is known as “The Camellia City of America” due, in part, to an elderly African-American woman called affectionately Aunt Caroline who once grew beautiful japonica bushes, as camellias were once called, and freely shared her cuttings and plants. So spectacular were her camellias that when Mobile’s Bellingrath’s Gardens were being established, agents came to McComb and purchased many of her bushes for the gardens. McComb still displays one of the largest assortments of camellias in the South every spring. Adding to the floral display, the city stages an annual lighted azalea trail during spring blooming.

Other activities near Lake Tangipahoa include the Pike County Speedway which is one of the most popular dirt tracks in the mid-South and produces a number of popular events from March through October. About 12 miles east of McComb, the Bogue Chitto River is a popular spot for canoe and tube trips; a rental facility there rents equipment and leads river trips from two to seven hours in length. There is even a water park nearby which provides a campground. And, both Jackson and New Orleans provide plenty of interest to longer-term visitors. There are a variety of lodging choices in McComb, from bed-and-breakfasts to chain hotels. Real estate is often available, but not on Lake Tangipahoa which is surrounded with state land. There’s plenty here for every member of the family to enjoy. Visitors in the fall and winter of 2012 will find Lake Tangipahoa severely reduced in size due to dam repairs, but come spring the lake will be back in all its glory.

Things to do at Lake Tangipahoa

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Swimming Pool
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Playground
  • Antiquing

Fish species found at Lake Tangipahoa

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Pike
  • Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
  • Sunfish

Lake Tangipahoa Photo Gallery

Lake Tangipahoa Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Surface Area: 554 acres

Shoreline Length: 5 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 328 feet

Average Depth: 7 feet

Maximum Depth: 20 feet

Water Volume: 4,841 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1945

Drainage Area: 57 sq. miles

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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