"They started showing up Monday," said David Berry, the state lakes manager for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. "No, I am not kidding. They came in and filled the campground and stayed in campers. They were that excited."
Hundreds more people and scores of boats came in overnight Tuesday (May 21) and were lined up at the gate.
"There was a crowd, and nobody who wanted to take home fish left empty handed," Berry said. "They were not disappointed. Even the bass fishermen who released everything said the fishing was great and they caught plenty of good fish. The biggest I heard was 6 pounds, but that isn't bad for a 3-year-old bass."
Jeff Davis Lake, a 100-acre impoundment near Prentiss, was a bream jewel of the MDWFP state lake system before the water control structure needed repair and renovation. The lake was drained and restocking took place three years ago.
"We heard a lot of positive comments from the fishermen, and that includes the bream fishermen who always loved the lake," Berry said. "They were catching hand-sized bluegill and redear, which is what they were accustomed to before we closed the lake.
"They also caught a lot of catfish, too. Man, they caught some catfish."
Sounds like a lot of fish fries will be held in Jeff Davis County for weeks to come. The timing of the reopening couldn't have been planned any better. The full moon is Saturday, which put the bream on the bedding cycle.
"I think they will keep catching a lot of bream all the way through the weekend," Berry said.
The same full moon that will keep the action hot at Jeff Davis Lake should put a lot of fish in the boat throughout Mississippi.
All of the state lakes, state park lakes and other fishing holes should see bluegill thick on the beds.
"Started showing up for me Monday (May 20) and it's been getting better every day," said Joe Green of Gluckstadt, who fishes a 700-acre private lake in Madison County. "I walk out on the pier every afternoon and check them. I was catching a few for the past two weeks, but this week it picked up and the fish were bigger.
"Wednesday, I caught about a dozen in 10 minutes on crickets, every one a bluegill bigger than my hand. I quit, cleaned them and we ate them for supper that night. Nothing's better."
Bass fishermen are struggling to locate a solid pattern on most lakes, but not at Pickwick.
"Still catching the crud out of largemouth and spots," said David Ivy of Corinth. "The big largemouth are moving back out and I caught them on crankbaits on points. But my favorite fishing this week was Wednesday afternoon when I found a big school of spotted bass on a rocky bank.
"I caught about 15 one right after another on a grub and 3/16 jig head. That was fun. One weighed 5 pounds, which is the biggest spot I've caught in about 10 years."
Catfish are also hot at Pickwick, having moved up on the rock shelves in 5 to 8 feet of water below the big bluff banks.
"My friends caught about 50 (Wednesday) morning and were back in Corinth by noon," Ivy said, laughing. "I sure would hate to know I had to clean that many catfish."