Biologists are urging fishermen to catch and cook more of the bass that are being caught in some waters in the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks’ State Lake system.

It’s good for you, and it’s good for the future of fishing on those lakes in South Mississippi.

Among the lakes included are Geiger Lake at Paul B. Johnson State Park near Hattiesburg, Lake Jeff Davis near Prentiss and Lake Mary Crawford at Monticello. Samplings at those three lakes turned up a large percentage of bass 12 inches and under, biologist Jerry Brown said.

“These state fishing lakes have abundant bass populations and we want to encourage anglers to harvest some of the small bass they catch to promote a balanced fish population,” said Brown. 

The harvest of undersized fish is also encouraged at two of Mississippi’s most popular trophy bass lakes, Lake Bill Waller near Columbia and at Calling Panther Lake near Crystal Springs. The daily creel limit of bass at Waller is 15, but only one fish can be over 22 inches and no fish between 18 and 22 inches can be kept. At Calling Panther, the limit is 30 per day with only one over 20 inches allowed.

Brown said the State Lakes should provide a great year of fishing in 2014, with bass, bream and catfish at all lakes and crappie at some.

“The cooler temperatures this winter reduced the vegetation in a few of our state lakes which should make fishing easier,” biologist Stephen Brown said. “We’ve had successful spawns of bluegill and largemouth bass that will produce large year-classes and provide great fishing in coming years.”

There is good news for oxbow lakes along the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers, where fishermen struggled in 2013. Biologists are optimistic this year.

“We know bass and crappie numbers were down last year based on reports from anglers and our fall sampling confirmed this,” said Jerry Brown. “The record breaking flood in 2011 followed by near record low levels in 2012 may be to blame. 

“Both events happened during the spring when bass and crappie are spawning, and the fishing reports we’re getting for our oxbow lakes are similar to those coming from other states.”