For the second time in two months, state wildlife officials have announced a change in crappie fishing limits at Sardis Lake in North Mississippi.

And this time it is for good, with the new 11-inch minimum set to go into effect on March 21.

"Our original proposal announced in January was to drop the minimum length from 12 inches to 10 inches, but after getting comments from fishermen both at a meeting and through other methods, the Commission revised it to 11 inches at its February meeting," said Ron Garavelli, chief of fisheries for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks. "Fishermen asked us to reconsider, felt very strongly that 11 (inches) was better than 10, and that's what we did. The new minimum-length limit will be 11 inches."

Previously announced creel adjustments are unchanged. The daily limit of crappie will go from 20 to 15 per fishermen, but for boats with three or more anglers the boat limit is 40. In addition, each angler will be limited to using no more than three poles at any one time.

Some new black bass limits also will go into effect on March 21:

• Pickwick Lake - A 15-inch minimum length limit on all black bass.
• Davis Lake - An 18- to 22-inch, with only one fish allowed daily over 22 inches.
• Jeff Davis Lake - A 16- to 20-inch slot, with only one fish over 20 inches allowed in the daily limit of 15 fish, after the reopens in May.
• Moon Lake - Five fish daily limit.

Click here for more information on fresh water fishing in Mississippi and weekly fishing reports on most public waters.

The latest reports indicate the start of the annual pre-spawn big-bass bite, with several public lakes producing double-figure largemouth over the last 10 days.

Small buck bass have already moved shallow in most lakes, and the big females are headed in that direction.

"They haven't gotten there yet, but they are getting close," said avid bass fisherman Rob Doherty of Hattiesburg. "We started seeing the males moving up in mid February, and you could catch all you'd want of them on soft plastics.
"But if you want big fish, then you have to move out and hunt the females on the edges of the vegetation or the first drops, either one. They are going to be deeper, and they stay there until they get ready to spawn."

However, just that little bit of a move to the edges of the spawning areas has triggered a bite.

"We've seen several 10s, 11s and even a 12 at several lakes on our agency's state lake system," Garavelli said. "Lake Bill Waller (Columbia), Calling Panther (Crystal Springs), Neshoba County (Philadelphia), Monroe (Aberdeen) have produced big fish, and you know about Davis Lake, too."

Davis Lake, managed by the U.S. Forest Service near Houlka, has produced a 17.34-pounder and at least seven other big bass over 10 pounds this year.

New Bassmaster Classic champion Cliff Pace of Petal, who won the sport's premier tournament Feb. 24 in Tulsa, Okla., offered this tip Friday for finding big females in pre-spawn in his home state.

"Two of the things that were big factors in my winning the Classic will work here now on big females," Pace said. "No. 1 is a football-head jig with a split tail trailer (he uses V&M products) worked on the ledges. If they are on the bottom and feeding it is a big-fish bait.

"But, if the big females are suspended, which they will do in cooler water and they were in Oklahoma, then the jerk bait is a killer. It's not easy to commit to and throw it all day, but it will catch them."