Ross Barnett Reservoir, Mississippi, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Mississippi - Capital-River Region -

Also known as:  The Rez

Ross Barnett Reservoir, known locally as The Rez, has found its way into the hearts of the Capital River region of Mississippi. The 33,000-acre reservoir was formed in 1965 when the Pearl River was dammed to create a water supply for the City of Jackson. Located less than 20 miles from downtown Jackson, Ross Barnett Reservoir plays a part in the recreational plans of generations of Mississippians. Well over two million people visit the reservoir each year in search of watersport venues, camping, swimming and fishing. With five campgrounds, 16 parks, 22 boat launches, three handicapped-accessible trails, two multi-purpose trails, and a mountain bike trail, there is something here for everyone.

Ross Barnett Reservoir is relatively shallow with an average depth of about 12 feet. Visitors enjoy sailing, power boating, water skiing, tubing, wakeboarding, pontooning and leisurely cruises. A handful of marinas along the 100 miles of irregular shoreline offer fuel, bait and tackle, convenience items, full-service restaurants and docking space. Rentals are available for pontoons, personal watercraft, skis, wakeboards, water toys and life preservers. Maps are available showing no-wake areas. Some of the marinas are conveniently located near campgrounds along the shoreline. Those bringing their own boats will find a number of public boat ramps available for launching and a water patrol in case they encounter problems.

Swimming areas are located in some of the public parks, although many also provide swimming pools as the water is sometimes muddy after heavy rain. A local yacht club located on the lakefront offers sailing and boating lessons to members and non-members alike for a fee. Sailboat races and regattas are held here regularly. The many coves and bays are ideal for canoeing and kayaking, with even better paddle venues upstream along the Pearl River. The public lands upstream along the Pearl River are particularly good for wildlife watching and stream fishing.

Ross Barnett Reservoir is known as prime catfish water to anglers, with channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish all caught. Some of the ‘cats’ can reach nearly a hundred pounds. Crappies are also abundant and have provided many a meal for anglers wishing some fresh-caught table fare. But it is largemouth bass that attract the most attention. Striped bass and hybrid bass are also caught along with panfish. The lake has many stumps and pockets of standing timber-great fishing for those who can read the water. Fishing tournaments are held here regularly. Children’s access to the smaller fish from fishing piers makes this lake particularly memorable. The campgrounds and parks offer dock fishing along with boat launches, 24 hour security, charcoal grills, picnic tables, paved RV sites with patios, volleyball and tennis courts, pavilion rental, playgrounds, rest rooms and showers with some having swimming pools.

All facilities in the parks are controlled by the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District, the state agency that owns the dam and reservoir. The agency also operates the campgrounds upstream along the Pearl River. Conveniently, the reservoir lies next to the Natchez Trace Parkway which is bordered by a swathe of public land, preventing intrusive development. Between the Trace and Ross Barnett Reservoir, almost 7000 acres is leased by the water district to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks as the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area. Nearly 1500 acres on the southwest corner of the WMA is designated the Pearl River Waterfowl Refuge with viewing platforms and a variety of trails. Much of this area is designed to be accessible to the disabled. Birding brochures are available. The area is rich in water-loving birds, including eagles, egrets, a variety of herons and migrating birds of all kinds. Numerous trails within the area are available for exploration. All visitors must obtain a Daily User Permit. The WMA is available for hunting in season with appropriate license as long as all regulations are followed.

A number of walking and nature trails radiate from the parks along the shoreline of Ross Barnett Reservoir, some of which are available for bicycling and horseback riding. Because the area is such an attractive landscape, the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District has leased areas along the southwest shoreline to developers to build condos and private homes with water access. The new housing is hugely popular; nearly 4000 homes are now located in off-water neighborhoods in these development parcels. A new condo project is planning its own marina, complete with houseboat slips. Homeowner associations are becoming involved in lake-based activities, and a community-wide effort produces the annual Waterfest at Old Trace Park. The festivities include kayak racing, children’s activities, free music, food and educational activities.

Grocery stores, services and fast food can be found in the City of Madison off the northwest shore. Family Circle magazine recently named Madison as one of the Best Ten Towns in America for raising a family. Children’s activities and services are plentiful and convenient. Jackson’s big-city attractions are only a few minutes’ drive away, with a number of other small cities nearby.

Few private vacation rentals are available near Ross Barnett Reservoir, but there are several hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfast inns within a short distance. One golf resort with lodging is located near the southwest shore. Real estate can be found, both as existing homes or in brand-new developments. With excellent fishing, boating and services, Ross Barnett Reservoir is the perfect place to spend a few days engaging in waterfront living, even if the accommodations are a tent or RV. So come enjoy some leisure time on the Pearl River and Ross Barnett Reservoir. The fishing is great-and so is the hospitality.

Things to do at Ross Barnett Reservoir

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Swimming Pool
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Playground

Fish species found at Ross Barnett Reservoir

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Blue Catfish
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Striped Bass

Ross Barnett Reservoir Photo Gallery

Ross Barnett Reservoir Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Pearl River Valley Water Supply District

Surface Area: 33,280 acres

Shoreline Length: 105 miles

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 286 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 298 feet

Average Depth: 12 feet

Maximum Depth: 35 feet

Completion Year: 1965

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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".

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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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