Mississippi sportsmen have either one of two mindsets heading into the weekend, based on the soon-to-be-ending run of unseasonably warm weather:

"Ugh, I am not looking forward to another crummy weekend of swatting mosquitoes in a deer stand (insert duck blind, if you prefer)."


"Man, can you believe how great this is? I can't wait to get on the water and get after the fish."

Fishing is by far the better option with 70-degree temperatures forecast for both Saturday and Sunday, just ahead of a cold front expected to hit the state overnight Monday. Add in great fishing reports from all over the state, and...

"The only problem I see about fishing is choosing where to go and what to fish for," said Dan Turner of Jackson. "Everybody I talk to has been catching fish all week. I mean everybody. They're catching crappie in the big lakes and oxbows, and they're catching bass everywhere.

"Thing is, with this weather change finally coming on Monday, I think the best fishing is ahead of us the next two days. Everything I know about fishing from 45 years of it tells me this is prime time."

Fishing reports have been consistent throughout this odd, quirky run of warm weather.

You prefer bass? The good news here is that with surface temperatures in the 60s, the largemouth have gone nuts. They are on an active bite.

At most lakes, especially those over 200 acres, crankbaits have been producing.

"I couldn't believe how strong they were hitting the FlatMaxx Wednesday and Thursday," said bass pro Pete Ponds, who was fishing a 500-acre private lake at his home near Madison. "They were not right on the banks, but a little bit further out. I started out working the banks and caught a few, but when I moved out another 10 to 15 yards the quantity and the quality of the fish improved."

James Turner of Vicksburg said the bass were just as active at Eagle Lake, but it was a spinnerbait that turned them on.

"We found the best fishing, and I mean a 5-pound average, on scattered cover in 4-6 feet of water between the piers," said Turner. "We started on the piers but they were not holding tight to that kind of cover. I guess because it was overcast, and warm, they were out feeding between the piers and only relating to isolated stuff like old piers and stumps. We threw everything, but the ticket was a blue and white quarter-ounce spinnerbait, with two small Colorado blades, one gold and one silver. They hit equally good with or without a soft plastic trailer."

Turner said he had friends that had similar luck at Chotard and Albermarle Lakes.

"I didn't make it past Eagle, but they went on up the road and across the main levee to the oxbow lakes and hammered good largemouths on crankbaits and worms on the deep banks," he said. "The fishing has just been great. I had another friend who went to Calling Panther Lake this week and he said he caught about 30 ranging from 12 to 25 inches on everything from topwater to jigs.

"I love to deer hunt, so I am happy to see that we're fixing to get some more cold weather (upper 20s at night by Tuesday). But at the same time I hate to see it coming because it will mess the fishing up."

James Horner of Columbus has been catching a lot of fish, but no giants, at the Tenn-Tom.

"Been a good 2-pound average with some threes and fours thrown in," Horner said. "I fished at both Columbus and Aberdeen and caught 'em good on a variety of lures at both spots. The best pattern was at Columbus on a spinnerbait or shallow crankbait on the edges of bushy laydows. The one big fish I've seen, about a 7-pounder, was taken on a jerkbait under a school of small fish feeding on the surface at Columbus."

Crappie reports have also been good, and perch jerkers aren't as worried about the weather change. They welcome it.

"We've been catching them pretty good, but I actually think it will get better if we can get some colder weather," said David Thornton of Eagle Lake. "These fish over here at Eagle, and at Chotard and Albermarle, I think they're easier to find in numbers when it gets cold. They group up better, and since the water's been so warm, a weather change will move them up on the shallow cover. I know at Eagle the big specks (black crappie) will move up and stack around a lot of the piers."

The warm pattern has produced a good trolling bite at Sardis, and it has lasted nearly two weeks, with some days better than others.

"You catch 'em good one or two days and then they slow up, and they start back up a couple of days later," said Johnny Thomas of Oxford. "We start with crankbaits, and there have been days when that's all we used. But on others, when they didn't like them, we'd switch to jigs and minnows and drag those around and beat out a good catch."

The oddball lake is Ross Barnett Reservoir near Jackson.

"Everywhere else, you see crappie go shallow, but not here," said Timmy Smith of Brandon. "Our crappie go deep, regardless, in December. This week, I've been doing really, really good trolling the edge of the river within the first mile or two of the Highway 43 bridge. You can catch fish 7 to 10 feet deep, but if you want the big ones you need to fish 12 to 18 feet and use 1/8-ounce jigs with a medium minnow.

"Shad are still migrating out of the lake up the river, and the crappie are holding on the edge of the channel and feeding heavy. Our fish are fat and chunky, the healthiest I've seen all year."

Barnett has also produced a good, late run on striped and hybrid striped bass on the lower end of the main lake.

This writer found them stacked on a 7-foot hump surrounded by 20 feet of water, not far from the river channel at one of its deepest points on the reservoir. When the wind allowed, a deep crankbait, a Bandit 250, was the ticket. When it was too windy, trolling with lipless crankbaits was the preferred option.

Coastal fishing reports remain solid, too.

Nearshore and marsh charter captains are reporting good scores of redfish and trout from the Biloxi Marsh area when the weather allows travel across the west end of the Mississippi Sound. When it doesn't allow it, the shallow reefs and bridge pilings are loaded with drum and sheepshead.

"Seems like every fisherman you talk to is on fish," said Turner. "Bass, crappie, reds, specks ... you name it. I'm guessing next week, after this weather change, it will be the deer and duck hunters bragging. That's OK, because we've sure had it our way for the last few weeks."

As hunting goes, the duck season entered its final and longest segment on Wednesday. It will remain open through to its federally mandated close on Jan. 27.

Deer season is entering its second of two weekends of the primitive weapons season. Bucks are chasing does hard in north Mississippi, and with the exception of extreme Southeast Mississippi, they are in the peak of pre-rut.

"It's about to bust loose around central and Southwest, that's for sure," said Ron Henson of Natchez. "They started really making scrapes this week, but it's been so hot that almost all of the activity has been at night. I went hunting Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon, and it was pretty miserable, but I remember walking the same trail on both days. Tuesday, I saw one or two scrapes. Wednesday, I bet there was a scrape on darn near every tree.

"I think the timing is great for this cold weather coming in early this week. This coming week, with the temperatures dropping below freezing, we should really start to see more bucks. I bet over the next 10 days, we're going to hear about a lot of giants being killed."