If you were to Google the phrase “best kept secret on the Tenn-Tom,” you might land on Bay Springs Lake and Bay Springs Marina, located at Mile 412.
The marina opened to the public in 1984 while the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway was still undergoing excavation by the U.S. Corps of Engineers in what is considered to be the largest earth-moving project in world history.
Marina owner Chris Mills said he and his father had the idea to open the marina while still living in Ohio. Tired of the daily grind of machine shop work, the family gathered to discuss the opportunity. “We were reading about the building of the Tenn-Tom Waterway, and after a few phone calls, we found out that the Bay Springs Lake area was going to host the first marina on that waterway,” said Mills.
It was settled, and the family packed up and moved down south to New Site, Mississippi, where the boating season lasts longer than in their native Midwest. New Site is home to a state championship high school basketball team, a few local stores, one gas station and not much else.
But the beautiful woodland scenery, the 6,700 acres of deep water and the wide variety of recreational activities that Bay Springs Lake offers are well worth the visit.
Bay Springs Marina is open year-round to transient boaters with vessels up to 150 feet in length. Fuel and electricity are available, in addition to numerous amenities, which include restrooms and shower facilities, laundry service, marine supplies, boat repairs, WiFi and a courtesy vehicle that takes marina guests to nearby towns for supplies or fun. The marina is capable of hauling out up to 50 tons, and it employs certified mechanics.
What makes the Bay Springs Lake area unique is its laid-back and family-friendly nature, with abundant activities for kids and boaters of all ages. The Corps of Engineers hosts an annual fishing rodeo, with boats lent by the marina. Fishing tournaments are hosted almost every weekend. “This lake has some of the best fishing in the state,” Mills said.
Fishing isn’t for everyone, but there are other activities guests can enjoy. The area is home to a campground with hiking trails, a white sand beach and picnic area. You can even camp right on the lake.
Don’t have a boat? No problem. The marina rents out pontoons, with discounts for seniors and military servicemen and women.
The best way to get to the marina by water is to head south from Pickwick Lake down the Tenn-Tom until you come to the Bay Springs Lake. Cruise all the way down the lake until you are right in front of the Whitten Lock & Dam. Head northwest from the lock and dam, past Gin Branch and round the corner until you come to the marina.
Boaters coming north up the Tenn-Tom should come through the Whitten Lock & Dam and can spot the marina looking northwest. Follow the red-and-white-striped channel markers.
If you plan on driving to the marina, there are several ways to get to Bay Springs Lake. Driving south from Tupelo, just head up the Natchez Trace until you cross the Tenn-Tom and follow the signs. If you’re coming from Memphis, take Highway 72 East to Corinth, Mississippi, and get on Highway 45 South to Booneville. Finally, head east on Highway 4 and follow the signs right to the lake.
Author: Heather Ervin is the associate editor of HeartLand Boating
Bay Springs Marina
48 County Road 3495
New Site, MS 38859
Off channel, one mile up from Gin Branch Creek on west side of lake.
Dockage: 150 wet slips ranging in size from 20 to 100 feet, many covered
Approach/Dockside Depth (reported): 30/12 feet
Fuel: Gas and diesel
Electric: 30/50 amp
Amenities: Water, ice, pumpout, restrooms, showers, laundry, ramp, marine supplies, engine and prop repairs, haulout to 50 tons, courtesy car and WiFi
Hours: Open year-round; call for hours
VHF Channel: 16