The Pascagoula River Wildlife Management Area is nearly 37,000 acres of pristine bottomland in coastal Mississippi. As its name implies its predominant feature is the Pascagoula River, but it encompasses countless other creeks, bayous and lakes. The area spans nearly 25 miles north to south and you could spend a lifetime exploring it and still not see it all. It is immense! This destination report will focus on the Parker Lake area which is also the site of the Area Headquarters.
Parker Lake itself is small, but it has several tributaries that pour into and out of it. There are very basic maps available at the headquarters, but they are not sufficient for navigational purposes. Detail topographical maps are available from the state at www.mdwfp.com, and I would recommend one for anyone who wants to get real adventurous. I grew up in this area, but was always so intimidated by the enormity of the swamp, that I hadn't explored it until recently.
From the ramp at Parker Lake you can go north or south. Either direction has plenty to see or do. You'll be immediately greeted by moss draped cypress trees that exceed 30 feet in circumference. The water is typically clear and iced tea dark. Parker Lake has an unspoiled yet mysterious beauty to it. To the south you can weave through a maze of waterways and eventually end up in the Pascagoula River headed down river to the Gulf of Mexico (this would take several days). To the north the creeks are narrow, but regularly open up into stands of flooded timber. The locals say the network of creeks and bayous will eventually spit you out into the Pascagoula River well north of the headquarters. My excursions thus far have been day fishing trips to the north.
The variety of fish is absolutely mind boggling. I have caught largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, crappie, shellcraker, sunfish, goggle eye, grennel, pickerel, sunfish, gar and some other species that have left me scratching my head. To get to the unexploited holes you will find yourself making occasional drags across fallen trees, dams and flooded flats. It is worth it. Along the way you can expect to see a bedazzling array of fowl and fauna. Whitetail deer, wild hogs, squirrels, turkey, ducks, owls, white and blue herons, songbirds, turtles snakes and gators (very few in the Parker Lake area) abound. Hunters can use their Kayaks to get well of the beaten path during open hunting seasons. The deep recesses of this amazing swamp have never been altered the hand of man and indeed some of the creatures seem unphased by your presence.
My best attempts to describe the beauty of the Pascagoula River WMA will surely sell it short. Visit. You will be awed.
There are many other kayaking opportunities both fresh and saltwater on the MS Coast. As our tourism folks will quickly point out, the MS coast is now the USA's second biggest gambling destination.
The WMA is prone to heavy flooding. Check the water level of the Pascagoula River at Graham's Ferry at http://ms.water.usgs.gov/. Hunting in the Parker Lake area is closed when the level hits 15 feet. The best Kayaking can be done when the level is from 2.5 to 6.5 feet.
None. This is a remote wilderness area.
Simply fill out the daily use permit and place it in the box at the launch. Must have valid fishing or hunting license if engaged in these activities.
The simplest way to find it is to take I-10 north at MS exit 69. This is highway 63. Proceed north on 63 for about 18 miles to the town of Wade. As you approach Wade's sole traffic light, brown signs will direct you left to the PRWMA. The road you turn left (west) on is Wade-Vancleave road. The headquarters at Parker Lake is about 4 miles down Wade-Vancleave road on the left, and it is well marked.
There are countless put-ins and take-outs within and nearby the WMA, but I would recommend putting in and taking out at the headquarters.
Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks - www.mdwfp.com- 1-601-432-2400. The area manager for the southern part of the WMA is Michael Everett 1-228-588-3878.
Anything but the topo map will be too superficial to rely on for extended ventures. Get your topo for $10 at www.mdwfp.com. There are several books on the Pascagoula River Swamp. An internet search should yield a few hits.