Fishermen at many of Mississippi’s public and private lakes cashed in on this week’s new moon phase, nabbing a mix of spawning redear bream, and spawn-minded bluegill and crappie.
“I filled a 48-quart ice chest with bream, both chinkies and bluegill, in two hours Tuesday,” said Timmy Raines of Canton. “I was fishing at a private lake, about 120 acres, where a friend has a house. We went trying to catch some of the big chinquapins (redear) and ended up with a mix of both kinds. I think the chinquapins were bedding because we got both males and females but we only caught male bluegills so I think the males were just moving in to get beds ready like they always do.
“My next trip will be around April 15 when the moon goes full. I bet the beds will be full of bedding bluegills then, and apparently I can get some of those crappie, too. They are my favorites.”
Raines said some nearby fishermen, using a boat, were catching crappie in the middle of the lake.
“They said they had been catching them deep the last few weeks but on Tuesday they were up in 6 feet of water and were catching them,” Raines said. “They said they were moving up to spawn and that we’d be able to catch them from the banks soon. I bet on the full moon we’ll get some of them on minnows either wading or walking the banks.”
On bigger waters, the crappie action is also showing good signs of building toward a spawning peak. One bass fishermen found that out on Tuesday in the Pelahatchie Bay area.
“I was fishing in the shallow backwaters at Barnett Reservoir and was catching bass pretty regular on a thumper (single big blade) spinnerbait and moved into an area where I caught a dark male crappie,” said Walter Garrett of Brandon. “Then I caught another one, and I thought, ‘if crappie are hitting this big-bladed thing, what would they do to a small one?’
“I always throw bass back, but crappie ... heck no, I take them home and eat them, so I found the smallest spinnerbait I had, changed the skirt to chartreuse and I caught 15 more crappie. That was Tuesday in Pelahatchie Bay, and I ended up with 12 males and even caught five fat females. I figured they were ready to spawn, if they weren’t already, and Pelahatchie Bay is the first area of the lake where they spawn.”
Garrett said he got the proof he needed Wednesday when he returned to the lake, this time armed with jig poles.
“I had to work that morning but when I got to the ramp at 1 o’clock and there was a guy coming out who had the limit of crappie he said he caught in 1 to 2 feet of water in the Bay,” Garrett said. “Most of his were females. He said he left them biting so I followed his directions to the area and I caught a limit, too.”
All Garrett would share is that the pattern involved riprap.
“They were right against the rocks, and the water temperature was surprisingly low, 64 degrees,” he said. “The place I caught them on Tuesday was back in pad stems and other vegetation and it was even cooler, 62 degrees.”
On Barnett’s main lake, the best fishing is still deep.
“I have found some males in the shallows, and have been for the past weeks, but if you want to catch the big female slabs then you need to back on out to 8 or 12 feet,” said Ken Thomas of Jackson. “There were a couple of days when the wind out of the south was so bad that we had to fish along the dam, and I caught some males in 2 to 4 feet of water along the rocks.
“On my next drift, I moved out to the next drop and started catching the females. They were in anything from 6 to 12 feet, but they were all relating to a drop. Didn’t matter what the drop is — and they vary from 2 or 3 feet down to 6 feet, or 5 or 6 feet down to 10 or 12 feet — they were on the drop.”
On Wednesday, Thomas was able to get to some of his favorite holes up the lake, but found they were stained and still cool in the shallows.
“I went in behind No. 7 (the old No. 7 sign) and behind the islands, and it was still too cool, 61 or 62 degrees for spawning, but there were some males in there,” he said. “It’s gonna be a couple of weeks, and that means it’s perfect for the full moon on April 15.
“I don’t care where you fish for crappie in Mississippi, Barnett, the oxbows, the Corps’ Grenada, Enid or Sardis or even the Tenn-Tom, they will be spawning on April 15.”