Crappie continue to dominate the statewide fishing report, with quality slabs coming from the oxbows like Eagle, Chotard and Ferguson lakes, but there's a lake in Northeast Mississippi that is producing better quantity.

But as good as the bite is, Davis Lake is not getting great reviews.

An anonymous writer to this week was concerned about the overall condition of the crappie fishery at the 200-acre lake operated by the U.S. Forest Service. His e-mail:

"Was wanting to get with y'all to do an article on Davis Lake, and the overpopulation of crappie in the lake. I really need y'all guys help and try and thin the population out or it is gonna be in a real mess. Most fish are from 7-9 inches and poor. We kept 110 last Saturday as most were in that 7-8 inch rang," the user wrote.

Rick Dillard, a fisheries biologist and recreation specialist with the National Forest Service in Jackson, said that his office was aware of the crappie situation at Davis Lake.

He said the problem begins with another species.

"Davis definitely has an overpopulation of crappie," Dillard said. "For several years in a row, we had a poor bass spawn. With reduced numbers of bass to predate on the crappie, they were able to overpopulate.

"In addition, gizzard shad, the main forage in the lake, have become too large for most of the crappie to eat. With less food available in the right size range, the growth rate for crappie has been slower than usual."

The downside is a high population of crappie that struggle to find food.

The upside is that the situation has created an excellent trophy bass habitat.

"While this makes for poor crappie fishing, it is the perfect recipe for trophy bass - low numbers of bass, plenty of forage," Dillard said

Davis Lake has built a reputation as one of Mississippi's best big-bass destinations, a result of a couple of renovation and restocking efforts over the past 20 years. The work included digging trenches and channels throughout the lake that created excellent holding habitat for bass.

And, apparently, for crappie.

Those channels made it difficult for fishermen to find bass, but they simplified crappie fishing. Working the edges of those deep drops with jigs and minnows produces constant action, the kind needed to produce the kind of catch reported in the anonymous e-mail - 110 in one day.

Dillard said the quickest cure for the overpopulation of crappie would be for fishermen to take them out, but he reminds them that Davis Lake's crappie limit remains 30 per person per day, Mississippi's statewide daily limit.

"While I would love for him to take out as many as they can, for the sake of obeying the law I hope he is only taking the limit," Dillard said. "We are working on the crappie situation, but it takes time."

Fishermen can certainly help, and at the same time catch a lot of crappie - which while short are certainly tasty when they come fresh out of a deep fryer.

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