For all the talk about how cold the season has been already, one might think it would be too frigid to talk about fishing.
One would certainly be wrong, especially when it comes to crappie fishing. A crappie trip to Eagle Lake tops our list of the Top 5 January fishing trips to consider.
1. Eagle Lake black crappie — “The colder the better,” said David Thornton, a Magnolia Crappie Club mainstay who lives on the banks of the old oxbow lake. “When you have trouble with ice forming on the eyes of your jig pole, then it’s perfect. I don’t know what it is about black crappie over here, but they thrive and feed on cold days.
“The best are bright, sunny, bluebird cold days with little wind. That pushes them up under some of the piers and boathouses, and concentrates them. Without wind, we can move right up in there with them and get them.”
One Thornton tip: “Don’t fish too deep. A lot of times the black crappie will suspend between 2 and 4 feet deep under those piers. You may not believe it, but it happens.”
2. White crappie at Chotard and Albermarle lakes — Just around the corner of the main Mississippi River levee from Eagle Lake, these connected oxbows offer outstanding white crappie action.
“Find big, suspended schools of shad and you will find big schools of crappie,” said Paul Johnson, a Mississippi Sportsman columnist. “Fish deep and cover a lot of water.”
In fact, Johnson discusses these lakes in his column in this issue.
3. Neshoba County Lake largemouth — This 138-acre MDWFP lake is full of lunker Florida bass nearing their growth peak after restocking about 10 years ago, when the lake was drained and closed for nearly six years between 2000-2006.
Largemouth over 12 pounds have been common, and the big catches begin in January as the females fatten up for the spring spawn.
The key is catching a few warm days in a row, which triggers even a small rise in surface temperature. That will increase bass activity, and a jig-n-pig fished on a break between shallow and deep water could produce a giant.
4. Bass fishing in coastal river marshes — Depending on rainfall and river runoff, the January fishing in the Pearl, Jordan, Biloxi and Pascagoula river systems can be sensational. The more freshwater, the better the bass fishing.
Included in this month’s edition is an excellent story by Sam Davis on cold water fishing on the Pascagoula River. The tactics described can work on all the coastal rivers.
5. Barnett Reservoir catfish — Oddly enough, one of the best times to catch big catfish by rod and reel in the 33,000-acre lake called The Rez near Jackson is in January.
What happens, former MDWFP chief of fisheries Ron Garavelli said, is that shad get caught shallow by rapid drops in water temperature and die. Catfish move up to gorge on the sudden feast.
The big flats along the Natchez Trace offer excellent opportunities for bank fishermen with long surf-casting rods.
“It’s kind of like that deal at Eagle Lake for crappie: The colder the better,” Garavelli said. “You gotta love it to do it.”