Mississippi anglers have access to a tremendous range of fishing, from saltwater to freshwater, from trophy angling to food fishing, from the fast action of bedding bluegills to the challenges of largemouth bass or fishing for the biggest catfish. Here are the top places to go each month of the year.
BILOXI PIERS SALTWATER MIXED BAG
The Biloxi area has a wealth of fishing piers where anglers can wet a line. One that comes highly recommended is the old Highway 90 fishing bridge. It’s due north of the Biloxi Bay-Ocean Springs Bridge and is right at the foot of Howard Avenue.
If that bridge doesn’t please you, try another; there are more than a dozen to choose from.
When the first cold front blows through in November, sheepshead and black drum move into the protected waters of the bays. Both species hang out around barnacle-encrusted structure and can provide lots of action on light tackle. Fish live shrimp to get their attention. Use at least 10-pound braided line to stand up to the abrasive structure where these fish are found.
You may hook a variety of other species on these piers, including speckled trout, white trout and redfish. Some of these piers are 12 to 15 feet off the water, so have a net you can use to reach fish you have on the hook.
OTHER OPTIONS: Ross Barnett Reservoir is great for crappie in January, particularly in the edges of the creeks and rivers. The Pascagoula River is a good bet for trout.
LAKE FERGUSON LARGEMOUTH BASS
A bout of early spring warm weather can make the bass in Lake Ferguson very active for a few days. The water level in the lake fluctuates widely, but as long as the water isn’t really high, fishing for both largemouth bass and bream can be very good.
Because of the extreme fluctuations in water height, there are no fishing piers on Lake Ferguson. That means anglers must approach their fishing from a boat.
Get on the US Army Corps of Engineers website before you come and look at the river gauges. Look for a gauge in the upper 20-foot range down to about the mid-teens range. Anywhere in there, the fishing will be fine. Traditionally the fishing is better when the water is falling. Try spinnerbaits and fish visible structure.
OTHER OPTIONS: Try Eagle Lake for crappie; target the water under the piers and boathouses. In Bay St. Louis, fish around the US bridge pilings of the Jordan river for redfish, sheepshead and drum.
ARKABUTLA LAKE WHITE BASS
Arkabutla Lake is in Tate and DeSoto counties, about seven and a half miles west of Coldwater. For white bass, experts recommend jigs or small crankbaits over a sand bottom anywhere there’s current. In the lake, Hickahala Creek is a good place to look for fish.
Large numbers of white bass end up in tailrace waters below dams. They provide a good fishery here, especially in the spring.
White bass feed predominantly on shad, so shad-like lures work well for them. Many anglers catch them on jigs, small crankbaits or tail-spinner type lures.
If you get out in a boat along some of the spillways, try 1/8-ounce jigheads with 2-inch pearl curly-tailed grubs on light spinning gear.
Although experts often use rattling baits to find fish, they say jig and grub lures provide more consistent action. When you can see fish on top, just cast the lure and reel. When they’re not visible, slow down and bump the lure along the bottom on sandbars and other sandy spots.
OTHER OPTIONS: Sheepshead will be heading offshore to spawn, so catch them around bridges at the mouths of the bays early in the month, and on the flats and outer beaches late. Florida-bred largemouth bass will be on the beds in Lake Perry by the end of the month; try dark-colored plastic worms for early spring action.
LAKE CHOTARD SHELLCRACKER
Lake Chotard is one of several oxbow lakes still connected to the Mississippi River when the water is high. It has a reputation for producing plenty of big bream. Lake Chotard is located Warren and Issaquena Counties, 30 miles North of Vicksburg on Highway 465.
Shellcrackers are opportunistic bottom feeders. They feed mostly during daylight hours on a variety of invertebrates, especially snails and clams. They also eat larval insects, fish eggs, small fish, and crustaceans.
In general, shellcrackers are strong fighters. They don’t take take artificial lures readily but are easily taken on natural baits.
Most fish are taken on cane poles with small hooks, corks, and split shot for weight. Some of their favorite baits are worms, crickets, grubs, and shrimp.
OTHER OPTIONS: Try small rattling crankbaits for white bass in Bayou Pieirre. Grenada Lake should be good for crappie this month.
ROSS BARNETT RESERVOIR BLUEGILL
If you really want to be adventurous, Ross Barnett Reservoir has some good bluegill fishing. However, it’s 33,000 acres, so you have to look for them. Try above Highway 43 in the upper end of the lake in the old flooded oxbows.
Bluegill start spawning in May. According to biologists, from about the end of April until September they spawn about once a month.
Bluegill will eat almost anything they can fit in their mouths. They love insects, insect larvae and crustaceans, but also will eat vegetation, fish eggs, small fish, mollusks, and snails. That means a lot of baits will catch them, including a variety of natural baits such as crickets, grass shrimp, and worms, and artificial lures including small spinners and popping bugs.
OTHER OPTIONS: The Big Black River is good for flathead catfish. Use chicken livers or live goldfish, and use caution on this river, especially during spring floods. Try Sardis Lake for crappie.
MISSISSIPPI SOUND SHARKS
Although the big sharks are caught in deep water, anglers can catch many smaller sharks in the shallower waters of Mississippi Sound. Species include but are not limited to Atlantic sharpnose sharks, blacktips, and bonnetheads.
Anglers can catch sharks on a number of different baits. Try topwater popping corks or with live or dead bait. You also can catch them by bottom fishing or trolling.
As the summer progresses, sharks become more common around the beaches, and during June and July, sharks are in depths of water less than a foot and a half. That’s when you’ll find them on the beaches and sand shoals, and around barrier islands.
OTHER OPTIONS: Lake Perry in the De Soto National Forest in Perry County offers good bank and pier fishing for bream. Fishing is with pole and line only; no jugs or trotlines are allowed. Try the tailrace area below Grenada lake for white bass.
LAKE MONROE LARGEMOUTH BASS
Lake Monroe is a 99-acre lake in northeast Mississippi, located in Monroe County between Aberdeen and Amory. Most of the big fish are deep in July, probably in the old creek channel.
In the mornings when the sun still is low, look for points and banks that are close to the creek channel and fish those areas. Start with a topwater bait to get a reaction before the sun gets up. Once the sun starts to come up, switch to something like a vibrating jig.
Throw the same baits around the grass edges just to see if there are any fish feeding in shallow water. In the middle of the day concentrate mostly on the creek channel itself, especially around brush piles or anything else that might be along the channel. There, use a bottom bait such as a Texas-rigged 10-inch worm or a Carolina rig with a crawler or lizard on it. Fish either one of those slowly around the brush piles or the dropoff of the creek channel.
OTHER OPTIONS: Calling Panther Lake is a good bed for summertime bream. This lake has significant standing timber, which makes navigation challenging. Try Lake Tom Bailey for catfish, especially at night; fishing is allowed from the bank at night but not from the courtesy piers adjacent to boat ramps.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER CATFISH
The best time to fish for catfish on the Mississippi is during the warmer months. Anglers typically catch three species of catfish on the Mississippi River: blue catfish, channel catfish and flathead catfish.
Channel catfish generally like areas with slow currents, such as side channels and oxbows.
One place to target them is deep holes behind the wing dikes on the river. Channel cats like to get in those holes because there tend to be breaks in the current there, with little eddies behind the dikes.
Some anglers run trot lines behind the wing dikes. Other anglers throw bait into the deep holes behind the wing dikes and keep a tight line until they feel a fish take the bait.
Blue catfish prefer areas with stronger flows such as in the main channel of the river. For flatheads, try a live bait such as shad. For the blues and channel cats, use night crawlers or some kind of prepared catfish bait.
OTHER OPTIONS: Bay St. Louis often yields good catches of redfish this time of year. Try Aberdeen Lake for largemouth bass.
SARDIS LAKE CRAPPIE
Sardis Lake is an impoundment on the Tallahatchie River in Lafayette, Panola and Marshall counties that covers more than 98,000 acres. Most anglers troll crankbaits this time of year, because the water still is warm enough for the fish to stay active. Try depths of 10 to 20 feet for the most action.
Also look for structure and fish over it. Crappie usually will be over structure elements such as river channels. Even in deeper water they may gravitate to structure, where they may suspend 10 or 15 feet above it; they like any kind of points, ledges, or drop-offs.
OTHER OPTIONS: Trout are in the bays statewide in September; try live bait rigged under a popping cork. Tippah County Lake has a reputation for producing large shellcrackers.
PASCAGOULA RIVER SPOTTED BASS
Unlike largemouth bass, spotted bass are stream fish, and the Pascagoula River is a good place to find them. The two main tributaries of the Pascagoula are the Leaf River and the Chickasawhay River, both of which also have good spotted bass populations.
Look for seawalls or rock piles along the shoreline that are near deep water. Also look for structure in deep water, such as bridge pilings. Cast upstream and let your lure drift downstream just like a baitfish would.
There is a minimum length limit in effect for all black bass on the Pascagoula River from Merrill to the Highway 90 bridge. You may keep only bass more than 12 inches, with a creel limit of 10 fish per day.
OTHER OPTIONS: If you prefer white bass, visit Grenada Lake for some prime action. Toward the end of the month, get into the Gulf Coast marshes and catch the speckled trout as they start their annual journey inland.
LAKE BOGUE HOMA LARGEMOUTH BASS
Lake Bogue Homa, located in Jones County in District 6, is an 882-acre impoundment built in 1939. The impoundment is fed by five creeks and streams, and has one main channel, which is what’s left of Little Bogue Homa Creek. In the upper end of the lake, there’s a good bit of standing cypress.
Overall, the lake is about 4 feet deep, with the only deep holes down to 18 feet 6 inches along the old creek runs near the dam.
Try buzzbaits in the morning, especially along the edge of the dam. Later in the day, go to the main creek channel and cast buzzbaits to the stumps that are a couple of feet under the surface.
The MDWFP maintains three fishing piers on the south end of the lake.
OTHER OPTIONS: Go north to Aberdeen Lake for blue and channel cats. Many of the state’s oxbow lakes produce good catches of white bass, but Yucatan Lake is one of the best this time of year.
BAY ST. LOUIS REDFISH
Under the right conditions, sight-fishing for redfish can provide good December action. Look for a moderately low tide on a calm, clear day. Head into the marsh on a shallow-draft boat so you can get into the ponds and let everything settle in some quiet water. Before long you’ll see reds moving and feeding.
If the weather turns bad or you can’t get into reds, there’s no reason you can’t change your plan and look for bridge pilings. Fish for drum and sheepshead. You may even pick up a couple of reds there after all.
OTHER OPTIONS: The Pearl River produces some of the best spotted bass catches in the state. Try the Yazoo River for flathead catfish. Click Here: Find the best places to go fishing in America