After the article was published, Jason Golden, the owner of Lakeway Archery & Outfitters in Grenada called to compliment the March issue, and then in idle conversation let the cat out of the bag.
"You know, there's a part of Grenada Lake over on the Scuna River side that all the anglers who come here to fish in the spring never see," Golden said. "It's the great wintertime crappie fishing we have during the winter drawdown.
"It's still Grenada Lake, including all the big white crappie we catch during the spring, but it's like fishing an entirely different body of water."
There are two aspects of Grenada Lake that make it stand out and demand an encore visit. The first is the exceptionally large crappie the lake produces year after year; the second is that the constantly changing water levels of the lake dramatically alter the landscape and scenery of the area.
Revealing the fantastic winter fishing found during the drawdown at Grenada requires a leap of faith on the part of the reader. In the spring, Mississippi Sportsman was able to provide the locations of specific trees and bushes, unimpeded by water, where crappie would gravitate to during the spawn because the water had not yet risen into those spawning locations.
For December, the reverse is true because specific structure locations that will be revealed during the drawdown were still covered by water when this issue went to press.
Bear in mind that the typical winter pool elevations for Grenada will be somewhere in the 200- to 205-foot msl range. This means the GPS coordinates published here will be correct, but the scenery may vary slightly when the water is drawn down.
For this month, the final installment of the Crappie Hotspot Series, Golden revealed his best 10 spots in a Grenada Lake Encore that few crappie anglers ever experience.
1. Jacks Slough
33 51.329 N/89 43.588 W
The first stop on Golden's winter tour of Grenada is a point located about a half mile from an area known as Jack's Slough. The specific spot is a sharp bend in the Scuna River channel.
With lake levels at 200 to 205 feet, very little fishable or navigable water will be available outside of the actual river channel. Golden cautioned boaters to be aware that outside the channel, water depths may only be a foot or 2 deep, with a lot of stumps just below the surface or sticking up out of the water that can cause some serious mishaps to the boater expecting to cruise across the lake like it was spring.
"To me, the winter conditions at Grenada dictate single-pole jigging," he said. "We're fishing structure that you can't see down in the river channel. A lot of this style of fishing is one eye on the depth finder and one eye on the rod."
In situations where he's fishing the actual river channel, Golden tends to gravitate to the inside bends first, since that's where crappie will go to get out of direct current, but he said not to overlook the outside bends, as well.
2. Old River Slough
33 51.660 N/89 42.950 W
Spot No. 2 on Golden's list is located roughly a mile northeast of spot No. 1 after winding up the Scuna River. The GPS mark indicates the mouth of an old river slough that connects to the Scuna River.
Golden said the ledge at the mouth of the slough will be in about 5 to 8 feet of water and drops off into 12 to 14 feet of water in the slough.
"Commercial catfishermen follow a practice of putting jugs in the water anywhere there is a substantial drop-off like this one," he said. "A lot of times, if you don't have a specific visual reference and don't have the spot marks on your GPS, you can look for these jugs and know you're on or near a drop."
Deep water means both security and a location to feed on baitfish in the reduced river basin. Look for crappie to relate to any vertical change in the bottom, whether that change is the edge of the river channel, a bluff wall or a transition to a deeper area like this.
3. Creek Intersection
33 52.775 N/89 42.307 W
As mentioned, any sharp bend in the river channel can be a magnet for crappie, but the numbers of bends in the winding Scuna channel make fishing all of them a challenge.
To narrow the field down, Golden suggests looking for bends that feature some additional type of attraction to crappie.
Spot No. 3 is just such a place, where a sharp bend in the channel connects with a smaller creek channel that winds through the standing timber to the north.
"You'll see plenty of visible structure here, and there will be more you can't see without sonar," Golden said. "If it's close together, I'll swim a shad body on a football jighead from one spot to the next."
4. Scuna-Turkey Landing
33 52.908 N/89 41.811 W
The appeal of hotspot No. 4 is not the access it provides to the water, as Golden indicated this ramp may be out of the water.
Instead, the appeal here is a low draw that runs up into the standing timber and drains into the river channel. Crappie will travel up the draw between the river and the standing timber, as well as hold along the sandbar located on the downcurrent side of the draw.
"A lot of anglers know that crappie are structure-oriented fish, and that's true in many places," Golden said, "but I'll find a lot of crappie in here stacked up on one side of the sandbar, which is pretty clean bottom.
"Most of the time, they're in here feeding on shad out of the current because the draw is out of the main flow of water in the river channel."
5. South End Slough
33 53.042 N/89 41.346 W
Hotspots Nos. 5 and 6 go together as opposite ends of an old river slough that runs parallel to the shoreline and connects to the Scuna River at spot No. 6.
In low-water conditions, anglers may have to come in from the north and work south to have navigable water - Golden said anglers can only access the slough from the south end if the water is at 205 or above.
He said the depth down in the slough will range from 4 to 6 feet, while the sides of the slough may be out of the water.
"Crappie will lay in this run because it's a safe place to hold off the river channel, and the shallower and usually muddier water will warm a little more than the main river run," Golden said.
6. North End Slough
33 53.286 N/89 41.122 W
At the point marked on the GPS, the slough in spot No. 5 dumps back into the Scuna River channel. When water levels are at 200 feet, Golden explained that this whole area will be out of the water except for the slough.
"It's pretty common to see anglers drive over here on a 4-wheeler and stand on the edge of the river and fish all of the old stumps and other structure on the edge of the river channel," he said.
7. Blow Out Ditch
33 53.409 N/89 41.133 W
Like spots 5 & 6, the next two hotspots on Golden's list are connected as each end of an old blow out in the Scuna River channel.
"At some point in the past, before the rivers were dammed to form the lake, the Scuna river blew out between this big bend in the river and formed a ditch, which is only about 500 feet long," Golden said. "It's not marked on any of the commercial maps, but it's a deep cut that is just as deep as the surrounding river channel.
"In the photo, all you can see now is the standing timber, but that ditch runs right beside it and holds a lot of crappie during the winter."
8. Blow Out Ditch North
33 53.550 N/89 40.917 W
In addition to the northern exit of the blow out ditch listed in spot No. 7, hotspot No. 8 lies east of a mound of dirt that the ditch circles around before dumping back into the main river channel.
Just a few hundred yards farther north, Turkey Creek also runs off the western side of the river basin and winds it's way to the Scuna River channel.
"The stretch where the ditch and Turkey Creek and the Scuna come together is one of the hottest places on Grenada Lake to fish during the winter," Golden said. "The specific GPS mark is where Turkey Creek hits the Scuna River channel on one side and the blow-out ditch comes in on the other side.
"Everything crappie want or need connects right here at this spot."
9. River Bend
33 53.629 N/89 40.733 W
Another good hard bend in the Scuna River - and possibly the last area that could reasonably be fished from a boat once the water hits 200 feet - is located at hotspot No. 9.
"The water depth in the river channel here will only be about 3 to 5 feet deep," Golden said. "There's not much fishable water left above this bend because it has silted in so bad.
"But there are times when that last bend will just be loaded with fish, so it's worth the trip to come up here and check it out."
Golden also pointed out that any winter rain coming in will sometimes draw baitfish, with big winter crappie in tow, into this area.
10. Grenada Landing Ramp
33 47.993 N/89 45.550 W
According to Golden, during the winter when the water levels get down to 200, the only public access to put a boat in the water to access the Scuna side of Grenada Lake is located at Grenada Landing.
"It's hard to believe that this lake can go from 200 feet in the winter, where it's really more river than lake, and then be up as much as 232 feet in the spring when the water will go over the spillway at the dam and crappie will be way up in the bushes," Golden said. "But living here and growing up here, you just learn to adapt to the rising and falling water levels, as well as changes in the color of the water.
"All of these changes can have a profound effect on the crappie fishing, but I believe this lake, by far, is one of the best ones you'll find in the state and maybe in the country for catch both numbers and sizes of really big crappie."