Okatibbee Reservoir is located seven miles northwest of Meridian, encompasses 4,144 acres and is part of the Pat Harrison Waterway.
This lake is producing some nice bags of bass, and tournaments held there often will be won with five bass that weigh 20-plus pounds. In a day of fishing, you’ll generally catch bass that weigh from 1 ½ pounds up to 6 pounds, and these fish might be ganged up; a hotspot can produce 10 or 15 bass.
The lake has two arms, with the west arm consisting of Okatibbee and Gin creeks. The east arm is Bell Creek.
I enjoy fishing Okatibbee Creek best because it has numbers of bends, turns and hardwood stumps on the edge of the underwater creek channel in 7- to 10-foot-deep water. I’ll mainly fish the edge of this creek channel with Carolina-rigged plastic worms, the ½-ounce Mann’s Stone Jig and Mann’s 15+ and 20+ crankbaits.
How to fish the Carolina rig
I’ll use 40-pound-test Berkley Trilene braid for the main line with a ½-ounce bullet sinker and a plastic bead below the sinker before tying the line to a barrel swivel. Coming off the second eye of the barrel swivel, I’ll have 2 feet of Berkley 20-pound-test Big Game monofilament line and a Mann’s black/grape Jelly Worm on the hook.
My equipment will be a Pinnacle flipping and pitching rod that’s 7-feet, 6 inches long and a 6.4:1 Pinnacle baitcasting reel.
In Okatibbee Creek, use your depth finder to pick up the old underwater creek bank, and follow the creek channel north up the west arm of the lake. Fish all the underwater points and the outside parts of the bends, and then work the inside parts.
Cast a Carolina rig into shallow water and retrieve it out to the deep. Most of the time the bass will be holding on the channel side of the stumps, and will attack a worm as it works its way through the underwater root systems or just as it falls off the lip of the break.
I use braided line to feel the lead hit the stump and to get a much harder hook set when the bass takes the worm.
How and why to fish the crankbait
Mann’s 20+ crankbait is designed to run down to a depth of 20 feet, and will get to the bottom quicker than a shallower-running crankbait will.
The lip of the crankbait will dig the bottom and create a cloud of dirty water, and its wide bill will deflect it off stumps and roots, keeping it from getting hung up.
I fish crankbaits in the Tennessee shad color and a brown back/chartreuse color to resemble a bluegills, since bass in August will be feeding on shad and bluegills.
And you can cover water quickly with a crankbait.
I’ll locate the stumps with my Carolina-rigged worm and my crankbait, instead of running along the edge of the creek channel with my depth finder and risk spooking the bass.
I’ll to drop a buoy to start, and then drop a buoy about 50 or 100 yards below the first buoy on the edge of the creek channel. Between the two buoys, I fish the edge of the creek channel.
I’ll use the 15+, too, because when I come up on a flat more shallow than 7 to 10 feet, I want a crankbait that will dig the bottom like my 20+ does but not as hard.
I’ll burn the crankbait down and retrieve it at a medium to medium-fast retrieve.
What about the Stone Jig?
There’s never a place or time of year when the Mann’s ½-ounce Stone Jig isn’t a good jig to fish — especially on ledges.
I like a black-and-blue skirt with a green-pumpkin crawfish trailer in August that can look like a crawfish or a bluegill. I’ll often put a little chartreuse dye on the crawfish’s pinchers.
To make the bait resemble a bluegill, I’ll work the jig slowly through the stumps and roots, let it ride over the stumps and roots, and fall off into the creek channel.
Most of your bites will come right on the edge of the creek channel or when the jig falls off the lip of the break into the creek channel.
How to fish for schooling bass
You have a good chance of seeing bass breaking the surface feeding on shad in August. Fish the entire area where you’ve seen the bass schooling.
Two lures that I’ll always have rigged on my rods are a Zara Spook and a soft jerk bait for schooling bass. I’ll cast the soft jerk bait, work it on the surface and get the schooling bass to eat it.
If the bass are schooling farther away from me, I can cast the topwater Zara Spook much farther than the soft jerk bait to provide a chance to catch a big bass feeding on the surface.
When the bass go down and quit feeding on the surface, I’ll go to the spot where I’ve seen the fish feeding and cast that Carolina-rigged 6-inch Jelly Worm around the area to catch fish.
Another factor that might come in to play during August is if the lake is high due to rain: I’ll fish a Mann’s Super Frog in the flooded grass and bushes.