Bass anglers in Mississippi are blessed with an abundance of outstanding opportunities to practice their craft. And with excellent fisheries scattered from the Tennessee line to the Gulf of Mexico, the most difficult task may be deciding which body of water to wet your line in. The following are some top picks for the best Mississippi bass fishing the Magnolia State has to offer.
ROSS BARNETT RESERVOIR
Ross Barnett Reservoir, located just northeast of Jackson, is one of the Magnolia State’s most popular bass lakes. This 33,000-acre giant boasts over 100 miles of shoreline and abundant cover. Formed from the damming of the Pearl River, Ross Barnett offers every type of bass structure and vegetation imaginable.
“According to the shocking surveys we conducted on Ross Barnett Reservoir in December, the bass population appears to be very healthy,” said Larry Bull, Fisheries Biologist with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. “And with the diversity of habitat available combined with its massive size, bass opportunities should remain good even with the amount of tournament pressure that Ross Barnett Reservoir receives annually.”
Although the Pelahatchie Bay area is the most popular for trophy-sized bass, a number of lunker largemouths are being caught on a regular basis on the upper Pearl River around the Cane Creek backwaters. According to Bull, the vegetation south of the State Route 43 bridge on the Rankin County side, and the abundant backwater areas north of SR 43 offer some of the better locations to target for largemouths in May.
Soft plastic frogs are the most popular lures in these areas, but anything weedless should be just as effective at enticing a bite from a hidden largemouth. Anglers should also focus on the river and creek channels during the post spawn. Following the spawn, fish move out to the channel ledges before they begin to form the big schools that Barnett Reservoir is so well known for. And keep in mind that all the big reservoirs in the Magnolia State have a later spawn than the smaller lakes because it takes them longer to warm up.
Located near Iuka in the far reaches of northeast Mississippi, this 50,000-acre impoundment is one of several lakes formed by the damming of the Tennessee River. Primarily known for its giant smallmouths, Pickwick Lake also offers excellent fishing opportunities for largemouth bass. With almost 500 miles of shoreline bordering Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, this lake is prime largemouth habitat.
The vastness of Pickwick Lake is the first obstacle a largemouth angler must overcome. For the shallow largemouths in 8 to 10 feet of water, focusing on the short pea-gravel points adjacent to deep bends in river or creek channels, or sharp bluff banks is your best bet.
The two most popular shallow water baits are medium- to deep-running rattling crankbaits, or suspending jerk baits. Lure speed and color can be a big deal with Pickwick largemouths. Keeping an open mind is critical when it comes to lure selection. A willingness to change the color, size, or style of lure to match what the fish want at the time helps you put more largemouths in the boat.
Deep-water largemouths call for an entirely different technique. The key is to locate humps along the main river channel that top out at around 25 feet. Active largemouths stage at the tops of these humps and wait for a meal to pass by. Carolina-rigged plastic worms, pig-and-jig combinations, or soft plastic swimbaits tend to entice the most strikes in these locations.