The winter doldrums are now a distant memory and the unpredictable winds and showers of early spring are dissipating.
While a lot of anglers already have been fishing this spring, the warmer and more settled weather makes many of us start thinking about traveling farther from home to wet a hook.
If you find yourself feeling that irritation, here are some places across Mississippi and Louisiana where you can scratch the itch!
Lake Jeff Davis Bluegill
The fishing may not be high tech, but the action always is fun when you target bream in the spring. Those fish are most active and easily caught during the two day period just before and after the full moon this month. It also is the time to battle the biggest bluegill of the year.
Lake Jeff Davis is part of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks system of State Fishing Lakes. Covering 100 acres in the southeast corner of the state, the lake is a panfish angler’s Eden.
Last year in early May, Terry Mathis of Mount Olive landed a 1-pound, 2-ounce bluegill to set a new lake record at Jeff Davis. After the May peak, you don’t have to quit fishing for those bluegill. They disperse, but continue to bite all through the summer, with mini peaks around each month’s full moon.
Worms and crickets are the live baits of choice, but small Beetle Spins or 1/32-ounce inline spinners also work. For boaters the best option is the southeast corner of the lake, which is loaded with stumps in the shallows. The three fishing piers have gravel spawning beds around them.
If You Go
Lake Jeff Davis is very accommodating for the traveling angler. It has a campground with 13 pads featuring water and electrical hook ups. Also, the boat ramp on the lake has restrooms with showers. There are two handicapped accessible fishing piers, and the lake is surrounded by a bike and nature trail.
Ross Barnett Reservoir Largemouths
With 33,000 impounded acres of water on the Pearl River near Jackson, the “Rez” offers plenty of room for bass fishing. By now the spawn in Pelahatchie Bay is basically over and the fish are spreading out all over the lake. But, May is a good month for tracking them down, as Shannon Denson of Brandon proved last May when he won the FLW Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament on the lake. His five-fish limit weighed 21 pounds, 1 ounce.
Fortunately, the largemouths are not too hard to pattern now. There are several habitats around the lake that attract them. The features to look for are stump-filled flats and riprap banks. The stump flats are to the south of the State Route 43 bridge and particularly along the east shore near Mill Creek. For riprap action, head to the SR 43 causeway, the Pelahatchie Bay causeway or the dam.
As the summer takes hold, move back into Pelahatchie Bay to toss jerkbaits along the edge of lily pad fields, paying particular attention to the Plummer Slough region. Out on the main lake look for old creek and river ledges to fish with diving crankbaits.
If You Go
Ross Barnett Reservoir has no shortage of amenities for visiting anglers. There are five public campgrounds, five marinas, 16 parks and 22 public boat ramps on the lake. For a good meal after a day of fishing, a number of restaurants overlook the lake along the Natchez Trace Trail at the west end of the dam near Old Trace Park.
Neshoba County Lake Largemouths
Over in east central Mississippi, Neshoba County Lake is another option in the MDWFP State Lake System. At just 138 acres, it may seem small, but its bass fishing is huge. It is arguably the best spot in the state to catch an 8-plus-pound bass. The lake gave up a 14-pound, 4-ounce lunker to Austin Vowell in 2017, which set the lake record.
Back on May 27, 2018, Lewis James boated two 4-pounders, a 6-pounder and one tipping the scales at 8 pounds during a morning of fishing. To top it off, he returned to the lake on the 29th and landed an 11-pound, 1-ounce largemouth. Keep in mind, however, that Neshoba is not a lake to fish if you want to catch a lot of bass. The 16- to 20-inch slot limit in effect does, however, produce big ones.
Neshoba is basically a shallow lake, dropping down to only 12 to 14 feet in the old creek channel. Tossing swimbaits or diving crankbaits along the drops into that channel, or the series of connecting ditches throughout the lake, accounts for many of the big bass this month. Later in the summer, try topwater baits around the emergent vegetation.If You Go
Neshoba County Lake is another self-contained destination for visiting fishermen. The facility features a 22-site campsite with full hook ups to accommodate tents and RVs. There is a handicapped fishing pier, a boat ramp and earthen piers that reach out to the creek channel where the best fishing is found.
Pickwick Lake Smallmouths
This 43,000-acre Tennessee Valley Authority reservoir on the Tennessee River is in the extreme northeast corner of Mississippi and shared with both Alabama and Tennessee. It also is noted to be one of the best lakes in the country for smallmouth bass. Fish topping the 6-pound mark are regularly taken here.
The best places to find these fish are along shelves on rocky shorelines. Concentrate your casting on the second drop along these ledges. Try letting a Carolina-rigged tube bait drop off the ledges that may be as little a foot drop or 5 to 6 feet. If that’s not working, try a diving crankbait along the drop.
A couple of excellent spots for this kind of fishing are in the Bear Creek or Yellow Creek regions of the Mississippi part of the lake.If You Go
J.P. Coleman State Park at the mouth of the Camp Hollow Creek arm of the lake midway down the Mississippi shore is a full-service resort destination. It has a hotel, rental cottages and campground with bathhouse. Additionally, there are nine public boat ramps, three marinas and three other campgrounds spread along the lake.
Lake Bistineau Largemouths
Lake Bistineau covers 17,280 acres in the Sportsman’s Paradise, just to the southeast of Shreveport. Though called a lake, it is more of a shallow, flooded cypress swamp. All those cypress trees and knees make it look like the bassin’ honey hole it is.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has conducted drawdowns on the lake in recent years to firm up the bottom. Those, along with stockings of Florida-strain largemouth bass, have turned the lake into a rising star in the Pelican State. According to the Bass Life Replica Program, Bistineau has produced almost four dozen lunkers of more than 8 pounds in recent years.
With the veritable jungle of cypress trees, finding those bass takes some prospecting in the spring. Pitching plastics, like crawbaits or worms, to the bases of the trees is a proven tactic here, especially for larger fish.
Surprisingly, despite the hot weather, finding the largemouths can be easier in the summer when the drawdowns take place. The fish move to deeper water, which is rare on the lake. Look for the fish on channel edges along the deeper water. One particular spot is a drop to 15 to 18 feet that is near Port of Bistineau on the east shore of the northern part of the lake.If You Go
Lake Bistineau State Park is located just south of Port of Bistineau and across the lake on the western bank. The facility offers an ideal spot for headquartering a fishing trip.Amenities include cabins, tent and RV campgrounds, a fishing pier and two boat ramps.
Poverty Point Reservoir Crappie
When it comes to big crappie, Poverty Point Reservoir in the northeast corner of the state near Delhi is in a class by itself. That is surprising, since the lake is little more than a 2,785-acre bean field that had a riprap levee built around it. The average depth is only 7.4 feet, with a few deeper holes.
Yet, the lake is extremely fertile and regularly gives up slabs of more than 2 pounds. In one eight-day period in 2016, the lake yielded the No. 2, 3 and 4 largest white crappie ever taken in Louisiana. All of those fish were around 3 1/2 pounds each.
As with virtually any lake, spring crappie tactics are not a mystery. Local anglers cast tiny jigs or troll those jigs, with or without tipping them withminnows. Once the spawn is over and summer arrives, move to deeper water and vertically fish with live minnows.
Most of the action takes place on the northern end of the lake, and especially the northwest corner near Poverty Point Reservoir State Park’s North Marina Complex. Some cypress trees were left standing there when the lake was formed and locals sometimes refer to it as the “Jungle.” Also, one of the deepest holes in the lake is located near the park marina.If You Go
Poverty Point Reservoir State Park is the jump off point for most crappie anglers here. The North Marina Complex boat ramp is near the center of the action, while the main complex on the southern end of the lake offers cabins, a lodge and campgrounds, along with an additional boat launch.
Toledo Bend Largemouths
Finding Toledo Bend Reservoir on a list of good angling road trips is no surprise to anyone at all familiar with Louisiana bassin’. This 185,000-acre inland sea on the Sabine River midway along the Louisiana and Texas border is probably the best place in the nation to catch a largemouth of a lifetime.
In the period from 2014 to 2018 the Toledo Bend Lake Association recorded an astounding 285 bass of 10 or more pounds that were caught in the impoundment. In fact, 87 of those were taken in a single year during that time.
With such a huge amount of water, picking an area to fish can be difficult. After all, the lake stretches for 65 miles between the two states. One area that does get mentioned often is the region from the lower reaches of Six Mile Creek on the Texas side out to the Housen Bayou area. These are on the southern end of the lake.
By May the bass have spawned and the largemouths have dropped out of the shallows. Often they hold on main lake points, especially ones that feature clay bottoms. Carolina rigs, or smaller spinnerbaits often pay dividends on these points. Later as the summer arrives, move to deep brush piles or grass beds to drag big 10-inch plastic worms to tempt the big bass.If You Go
South Toledo Bend State Park is on the Louisiana shore, just south of the Six Mile and Housen area. There you find cabins, an RV campground, fishing pier, boat ramps and a host of other amenities.