January 26, 2015
With its temperate climate and numerous species, the Magnolia State has excellent year-round fishing available from the Gulf to the Tennessee line. From bass to crappie to seatrout, there is constantly something for anglers to pursue in both fresh and saltwater during every month of the year. Here are our top 36 opportunities, by month, you should consider trying in 2015.
Albemarle Lake/Chotard Lake Crappie
According to members of the Magnolia Crappie Club, these sister lakes are all-time favorites when it comes to early season crappie fishing. These ancient oxbows are located inside the levee just a short 20-mile drive north of Vicksburg.
Most of the crappie caught in January on Albemarle and Chotard can be found in 15- to 20-foot depths underneath large concentrations of shad. However, on the rare occasion this tactic isn't working, experts recommend fishing at depths from 25 to 35 feet with multiple jigs rigged every 15 to 18 inches up the line. The preferred technique is to bounce a lead weight off the bottom while slowly drifting down the steep banks of the two lakes. Some of the more popular jig colors include black/chartreuse, black/silver and crawfish.
Other Options: Okhissa Lake is located in the heart of the Homochitto National Forest near Meadville and is a great offering for cold-weather largemouth bass. And for some superb striped bass action, check out Pickwick Lake in the northeast corner of the state. Trolling deep diving crankbaits along the edges of the river channel is the most productive method for these tackle busters.
Calling Panther Lake Largemouth Bass
Located just west of Crystal Springs, Calling Panther Lake is not a very large impoundment. However, it offers a wide variety of fishing options. Calling Panther Lake's erratic shape produces a total length of shoreline more comparable to lakes that are two or even three times its size. It also harbors an abundance of standing and fallen timber, and numerous deep creek channels, offering anglers a unique fishing experience. The thick standing timber in the lake provides an intimate feel while maneuvering a boat in and out of the many small openings.
According to Brandon Clement, a regular on Lake Calling Panther, a 6-inch June bug plastic worm is his lure of choice. However, the record largemouth for Calling Panther was a 15.25-pound monster caught by James Allen of Crystal Springs on Feb. 26, 2011, using an oversized shiner along the main creek channel.
Other Options: In February, go after giant smallmouth month on Pickwick Lake. Focus on the mouths of creeks with Shad Raps, tube baits or 5-inch curly-tail grubs. And for good crappie action, Lake Washington near the small Delta town of Glen Allan is always a top pick. The best results are with large minnows fished deep.
Bayou Pierre White Bass
Whether you call them sand bass, rock bass, bar fish or silver bass, white bass provide hot springtime fishing action in Mississippi. And there is no better time and place to pursue these ferocious fighters than their annual spring spawning run on Bayou Pierre near Port Gibson.
Following the mass exodus of schooling fish as they make their way up Big and Little Bayou Pierre to spawn is the most productive technique. Your best bet for finding these giant schools of fish is along the sandbars, runouts and where murky backwater meets clear current from upstream. While white bass will attack most any lure, small rattling crankbaits in shad or crawfish colors work best.
Bryant's Bait Shop (601-437-2530) in Port Gibson can keep you posted on the progress of the white bass spawning run up Bayou Pierre.
Other Options: Located in North Central Mississippi, Grenada Lake is among the top crappie lakes in the country. The hot lures for crappie at Grenada Lake are pink or black/chartreuse jigs tipped with minnows. If you prefer largemouth bass, fish Neshoba County Lake near Philadelphia.
Mississippi River Flathead Catfish
For big flathead catfish, trotlines and the mighty Mississippi River are the perfect combination. Each spring, floodwaters cause the Big Muddy to roll out of her banks, allowing foraging flatheads to move into the flooded timber. Catfish anglers take advantage of this feeding frenzy by setting multiple trotlines in likely spots along the main channel. Live bait such as goldfish, pond perch, shiners and bullhead catfish are preferred for Mississippi River flatheads.
Other Options: Tippah County Lake
offers excellent bank fishing opportunities for redear sunfish. Crickets and worms fished in beds yield the best results. This lake produced the state record with 3.33-pound redear sunfish. April is also a great month to wade-fish the barrier islands for speckled trout along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Lake Perry Bluegills
Nestled in the De Soto National Forest near Beaumont, Lake Perry is hard to beat for bluegills. Although it encompasses only 68 acres, this lake has three fishing piers and plenty of shoreline suitable for fishing.
Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks fisheries biologists say gravel beds that attract fish were built within casting distance of the banks, and bluegills averaging a half-pound are not uncommon.
Fishing is best a few days on either side of the full moon. And while crickets are the bait of choice, jigs and flies (like the "bream killer") can be deadly when fishing active bream beds.
Other Options: Despite heavy fishing
pressure, Sardis Lake is a good choice for crappie. And largemouth bass fishing on Ross Barnett Reservoir is reaching its peak.
Eagle Lake Hybrid Stripers
Slow-trolling, deep-diving crankbaits is the most effective technique for catching big stripers on Eagle Lake. Located just north of Vicksburg, this horseshoe-shaped oxbow is hybrid striper heaven. Starting in late spring, big hybrid stripers school up in deeper water. While silver/blue, silver/black, white/yellow and fire tiger colored diving Rapala Shad Raps or Bill Lewis Rat-L-Traps are the preferred, the key is getting the lure down to the fish. A great source of information on Eagle Lake fishing is Hobie's Outdoor Sports in Vicksburg (601-638-4216).
Other Options: Speckled trout fishing heats up in the Gulf of Mexico near Waveland. Live shrimp and croakers fished from the piers can be productive. For those seeking adventure, grabbling flathead catfish on the upper Big Black River is reaching its peak.
Natchez State Park Lake Largemouth Bass
The heat of the summer isn't the time most anglers consider as being prime conditions for lunker largemouths. But then again, most anglers haven't fished schooling largemouths at Natchez State Park Lake in July. This 230-acre lake near Natchez is a perfect spot-and-stalk bass lake. Just sit back in your boat and wait for smaller bass to start boiling the surface of the lake as they push schools of shad to the top. Then all you have to do is get close enough to the feeding frenzy to make a cast.
"While topwater lures will catch the smaller bass, you need to get deeper to catch those lunkers," said Don Hynum, a regular on Natchez State Park Lake. "Try a 5- or 6-inch shad-colored, soft-plastic swimming jig if you want a bass in the double-digit class." Natchez State Park Headquarters (601-442-2658).
Other Choices: Time to head south to experience some great flounder gigging in the shallow waters along the beach at Ship and Horn islands. Or if you prefer, the smallmouth action on Pickwick Lake in northeast Mississippi is also outstanding this time of year.
Bay St. Louis Redfish
Some of the best late-summer redfishing can be had in the waters around Bay St. Louis. With an abundance of deep holes and deeper channels, this area attracts large numbers of big redfish. And if you don't have a boat, wade fishing and fishing from the shore can be productive. Spin-Traps, gold spoons and soft plastic jigs are usually the most productive lures, but carrying along a few live croakers wouldn't hurt.
There are a number of charter guides available in the area, including Capt. Brett Ladner with Southern Xtreme Charters (228-493-1234).
Other Options: Using live shrimp under a cork to target the tripletail around crab pot markers in the shallows of the Mississippi Sound is sure to produce some incredible late-summer fishing action. And decent catches of bluegills can be had at Trace Park Lake near Tupelo for anyone that doesn't mind drowning a few crickets.
Barrier Islands Cobia
As the waters in the Gulf of Mexico start to cool, cobia begin moving into the shallower water. They can be found along the Gulfport Ship Channel that runs between Horn and Ship islands. They hang out around the dredged channel walls marked by the buoys. The old bait-and-switch method works great on big lemonfish. Locate fish by throwing a heavy chartreuse or pink jig, then switch to a live eel in a Carolina rig and drift fish along the channel markers.
Other Options: Largemouth fishing at night on Eagle Lake near Vicksburg is a great way to take a break from the late summer Mississippi heat. Topwater baits fished around the numerous lighted piers and boathouses on the Mississippi side can yield nice catches of largemouths. Big speckled trout can be caught on live croakers around oyster beds, range markers and "fish havens" in the waters around Gulfport.
Mississippi River Blue Catfish
October is the prime month for catching giant blue cats on the Big Muddy. Since some of these river catfish weigh well more than 100 pounds, it would be wise to use the heaviest fishing gear you can find. Large chunks of skipjack herring or big shiners are the preferred baits. Concentrate on the deep holes, especially behind rock dikes that are 60 to 100 feet deep if you want to hook a really big catfish. Good fishing holes can be found the length of the Mighty Mississippi.
The locations of these rock dikes, as well as a forecast of the river stages, are available by contacting the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg (601-631-5000).
Other Options: Some of the best white bass fishing to be had this time of year can be found at Grenada Lake. Also, with the cooler water temperatures, crappie fishing on Wolf Lake near Yazoo City heats up as the crappie return to fall feeding patterns.
Gulf Coast Marsh Speckled Trout
November is the transition period when speckled trout start moving out of the Gulf and into the marsh. As the water and air temperatures drop, fish continue to move farther into the marsh to gorge on brown shrimp. Their internal clock tells them to start feeding heavily in order to build up fat reserves for the winter. This is the month to catch some of the biggest trout of the year. An abundance of 2- to 4-pound speckled trout can be expected.
Most light-tackle inshore guides prefer artificial lures for fall specks, and have good success with both slow-sinking lures and topwater MirrOLures. When it comes to soft plastics, favorite colors are chartreuse, glow, purple and electric chicken on a 1/4-ounce jig. The presentation of choice is a slow retrieve or 14 inches under a popping cork.
Other Options: Ground mullet are sometmes overlooked along the Gulf Coast but these small fish are as easy to catch as they are delicious. You can catch hundreds of these delicacies on cut bait or shrimp in a short period of time around oyster reefs and "fish havens" in 10 to 20 feet of water. White bass can be caught this month on many of the state's numerous oxbow lakes this month. Target them on hard bottom ledges and around boat ramps.
Homochitto River Spotted Bass
The Homochitto River is one of the best spotted bass fisheries in the Magnolia State. With the onset of colder weather these fish become more active in the clear water of the upper Homochitto. They can be found in large numbers staging along shallow sand and gravel bars adjacent to deep pools of water. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits tend to be the most productive lures. Just remember that smaller lures are more effective when it comes to spotted bass.
Other Options: Although not many take advantage of it, December is a great time to catch some nice fat flathead catfish on the Yazoo River. Just keep in mind that flatheads prey almost exclusively upon live fish, such as bream, shad, skipjack, minnows or other catfish. Additionally, the winter drawdown on Grenada Lake makes for some outstanding crappie fishing.
No matter where you decide to try, there are, as you can see, numerous great fishing opportunities in the Magnolia State.