Tommy Sutton wanted to throw a crankbait on Jeff Davis Lake, but knew better and settled for soft plastics.

“If I want to throw away $5, I’d do it,” said Sutton, of Columbia. “You might get a crankbait through that cover once, but I promise you won’t get it through it twice without hanging it up.”

So, instead, Sutton was content working Texas-rigged 9-inch red shad worms through the willows and other brush. He was concentrating on the edge of a drop along the creek channel.

“There’s one,” he said, setting the hook and then trying to work the fish through the ample cover back to the boat. “Feels like another slot fish.”

About 20 feet from the boat, the bass showed that it was.

“Yep, another 18-inch fish, about three pounds,” Sutton said. “That makes No. 10 today. This is fun.”

Sutton and a lot of other South Mississippi bass fishermen have been enjoying the 100-acre lake, located about three miles south of Prentiss off Mississippi Highway 42, since it reopened in May.

Mother Nature was busy during the three years that Jeff Davis Lake was drained for repair and renovation. She introduced a lot of structure, namely willow trees and buck brush, that biologists couldn’t reach in the soft bottom and clear.

“Oh yeah, it’s covered up with that stuff,” said David Berry, the state lakes manager for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. Berry, of Prentiss, has an affinity for this little jewel of the MDWFP system. “It’s not easy for the average fisherman to deal with, but it sure is good for the bass.

“I will say this, though. Fishermen are catching and taking out a lot of fish. So much so that they tell me we’re going to need to restock the lake to make up for it.”

Berry said that with a smile, knowing that the agency is hoping fishermen will take some of the bass home, especially the small ones. That is the management plan, promoting a trophy bass growth.

All bass between 16 and 20 inches must be immediately released, an in the 15-bass daily creel limit, only one largemouth can exceed 20 inches.

“I think over the next few years we’re going to see a lot of the bass move up out of the slot and provide some great big-bass action,” Berry said.

Jeff Davis Lake manager Richard Hathorn reports that the average weight of bass being caught — and released — is between 4 and 5 pounds.

“They’re like footballs,” said Billy Green of Hattiesburg, who has fished the lake several times. “I did really good on topwaters early in the morning in June and early July, but once it got hot I had to move out and work the brush with worms. It is a lot of fun fighting a 4-pound football up out of that brush. I have found a few areas where I can bump a crankbait through the brush and they like it, but it is not easy.

“I have moved to the levee a few times and thrown a deeper diving crankbait and caught some nice fish, too. I’ll be honest with you though, right now, in this lake, with the fish still uneducated, you can throw just about anything and catch fish.”

Berry said the lake has been extremely productive for bank fishermen, too, especially bream fishermen.

“It was producing hand-sized bluegill and redear from the first day, and a lot of them,” he said. “Jeff Davis is historically a great bream lake and it appears the renovated Jeff Davis will be, too.”

For more information on Jeff Davis Lake, visit mdwfp.com and follow the prompts through fishing and boating to the state lake system. The website includes a downloadable lake brochure and includes maps of the lake.