Hunting and fishing are some of the most popular outdoor activities in the Magnolia and Bayou states, with camping being right in there quite close. Every year, hunters and anglers combine their activities with camping for fun and food with their families.
However, a lot of folks don’t seem to realize the benefits of state parks, located throughout both states that provide a wide variety of lodging and amenities, from cabins to RV sites to primitive tent sites, where sportsmen and women can stay, often times quite close to excellent hunting and fishing, especially fishing as most parks are situated right on a lake or waterway.
LAKE CLAIBORNE STATE PARK
Lake Claiborne State Park in Louisiana encompasses some 620 acres of pristine uplands on a hillside that overlooks the 6,400-acre lake. The lake is best known as a hotspot for largemouth bass. But, anglers come from all across the region to also fish for striped bass and crappie (known to locals as white perch) during certain times of the year.
“The white perch fishing is amazing in February and March,” said Wesley Harris, park manager. “We have a lot of fishermen that come and camp or stay in one of our cabins — some for a couple weeks at a time during that period. It’s a very clear and clean lake. There’s not a lot of stumps or logs that you typically find in a lot of north Louisiana lakes. And, it’s easy to fish.”
The average depth of Lake Claiborne is 16 feet, according to Capt. Donny Hood, owner/operator of Captain D’s Fishing Guide Service (318-754-7852). There’s also a channel that runs about 35 to 40 feet deep in the early months of the year.
Hood specializes in striper fishing on the lake that owns two (6th & 8th place) of the top 10 hybrid striped bass on record in the state.
“The preferred method of fishing stripers is trolling. We catch stripers year ‘round, but the best time to catch larger 8- to 9-pound stripers is in the spring, particularly the middle of March through the month of April”.
Just up the road from the state park along Highway 146, is Port-Au-Prince restaurant. Located on Lake Claiborne, it’s a great place to dine, particular after a long day on the water. The fried catfish and hush puppies come recommended.
Kel’s Kove Marina is also located just up the road from the state park. Kel’s Kove has been around since the early ’80s. It’s a great location to pick up groceries and bait during a stay at the park.
The park has 10 near identical cabins that each sleeps eight, two of which are ADA compliant. Each cabin has two sets of bunk beds in one bedroom and a queen size bed in a second bedroom. There is also a sleeper sofa in the living area and the cabins come with WiFi and satellite television.
The park’s cabins have been all recently renovated, and come fully equipped with dishes, cooking utensils, linens and towels. Harris says all campers have to pretty much do is bring their food and their toothbrushes.
Besides cabins, the park has 20 pull-through campsites for RV campers complete with water and electrical hook up. There are also an additional 67 improved RV campsites with water and electrical hook up and two unimproved campsites (no hookups).
Some primitive camping is available at Lake Claiborne State Park, and the park has a limited number of canoes and flat-bottom johnboats available for use.
225 State Park Road, – Homer, LA 71040, 318-927-2976
Cabins: 10 available at $150/night, Sunday through Thursday, and $175/night plus tax on weekends
Premium RV Sites: 20 available at $33/night weekends
RV Campsites: 67 available at $28/night
Primitive Sites: Two available at $18/night
Onsite Amenities: Rental boats, hiking, disk golf, birding, fishing
Nearby Amenities: Jackson/Bienville WMA, Poverty Point Historical site, Historic town of Homer.
HUGH WHITE STATE PARK
Hugh White State Park in Mississippi rests along the shores of one of the best crappie lakes in the country.
“We’re sitting on the number one crappie lake in the world,” said Bill Sykes, park manager. “Your average fish gets to be somewhere close to 2 to 2-1/2 pounds and it’s not unheard of for you to go fishing and catch one over 3 pounds here on Grenada. It’s that good.”
The time of the year doesn’t seem to matter much, when considering a trip to Grenada Lake, with the lake containing both number and big slabs. In fact, Granada lake crappie, must be 12 inches in length, which means keepers are pretty good size to start with.
“For big crappie I would say March is the best month to fish them and for numbers, I would say fall fishing is best,” said Michael Hanfelder, Grenada Lake guide (662-417-9117). “I really love fall fishing, because the weather is nice and the fish usually bite really well at that time of year. But, again, if you want trophy fish, something like 3 pounders, then spring is the time of year.”
Besides superb crappie fishing, what also make this particular state park attractive is it is leased Corps of Engineers land, meaning that hunting and fishing is permitted except where prohibited by the district engineer.
According to Sykes, there is plenty of public hunting opportunities available around Hugh White State Park, as well as others in this part of Mississippi.
“People come here and they stay here at Hugh White State Park,” Sykes said. “There’s plenty of hunting around these different lakes in this part of Mississippi. They can go right down the road from the park and they’re on Corps of Engineer land and parkland, where hunting is allowed. And, we aren’t far from the Mississippi Delta, where there’s tremendous waterfowl hunting on public land.”
However, it’s important for hunters coming into the area to investigate specific hunting regulations at www.mdwfp.com.
Hugh White State Park has 24 cabins, 157 RV sites and 40 primitive campsites.
Just down the road from the state park is the 333 Restaurant that serves seafood, steaks and home style cooking. The town of Granada has a population of just over 13,000. Locally, there are several chain establishments for dining.
3170 State Park Road, Grenada, MS 38902 – 662-226-4934
One Bedroom Cabin: $75/night
Two Bedroom Cabin: $95 to $105/night
RV Sites: $20/night
Primitive Sites: $13/night
Onsite Amenities: Group camping, golf, playground, visitor’s center, showers
Nearby Amenities: Malmaison and Calhoun WMAs, Corps of Engineers Visitor’s Center, Cottonlandia Cotton Museum
POVERTY POINT RESERVOIR STATE PARK
Poverty Point Reservoir State Park rests halfway between Vicksburg, Miss., and Monroe, La., along I-20 on the north side of the town of Delhi. What’s remarkable about this particular 2,700-acre, man-made body of water is that it is a crappie Mecca.
Poverty Point Reservoir holds six of the top 10 spots in the Louisiana State Fish Records for white crappie. Additionally, the reservoir holds the No. 1 spot for the biggest black crappie ever caught in the state.
Besides fishing, the park’s location as a base camp for hunters is outstanding. Poverty Point Reservoir State Park is a 44-minute drive from Russell Sage Wildlife Management Area, 36 minutes from Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge, 53 minutes from Buckhorn WMA, and 1 hour and 15 minutes from Boeuf WMA.
Poverty Point Reservoir State Park has eight deluxe cabins (1 ADA compliant) located over the water that sleep up to eight people with one double bed, two bunk beds, and a sofa sleeper. The park also has four standard lodge cabins (1 ADA compliant) that sleep up to 10 people with two double beds, two bunk beds and a sofa sleeper.
Additionally, Poverty Point Reservoir State Park’s golf course has been rated the No. 1 public course in the state for the past six years. There is also a 17-room hotel on the golf course.
1500 Poverty Point Parkway, Delhi, LA 71232 – 318-878-7536
Deluxe Cabin: $150 to $175/night
Standard Cabin: $155 to $210/night
Premium Sites: $25 to $33/night
Standard Sites: $20 to $28/night
Onsite Amenities: Rental boats, golf, walking trail, birding, fishing
Nearby Amenities: Wild Country Safari Park, Cotton Museum, dining, Bayou Macon, Russell Sage and Georgia Pacific WMAs
NATCHEZ STATE PARK
Located just under 20 minutes from the beautiful antebellum town of Natchez, is Natchez State Park. The park has a 230-acre fishing lake that has the distinction of being where the state record bass was caught — an 18-pound, 2-ounce lunker.
According to Neil Hay, assistant park manager, anglers were catching high numbers of bass during June, with fish biting aggressively.
Natchez State Park is the largest of Mississippi’s state parks spanning some 3,400 acres in size, with adult archery and muzzleloader hunts held on the park for Mississippi residents only. There are also youth gun deer hunts and some handicap hunts held for deer as well. Other special hunts include youth turkey hunts and youth squirrel hunts.
The park is also located near the Homochitto WMA, Homochitto National Forest and St. Catherine National Wildlife Refuge, all of which offer seasonal hunting opportunities. On Natchez State Park, hunts are limited to lottery draw.
Natchez State Park has 10 fully furnished cabins that sleep six and come complete with microwave, cooking stove, coffeemaker, pots, pans and all utensils. The park has 50 RV camper sites, as well as primitive campsites.
All across the South, state parks are available for the public to enjoy numerous outdoor activities. During the upcoming year, why not consider a spot in these parks as a base camp of operations.
230-B Wickcliff Road, Natchez, MS 39120 – 601-442-2658
Standard Cabin: $77/night to $87/night
Larger Cabin: $87/night to $97/night
RV Sites: $18/night to $20/night
Primitive Sites: $13/night
Onsite Amenities: Disk golf, playground, nature trail, boat launch
Nearby Amenities: Homochitto National Forest, Natchez WMA, dining