Looking inland, June offers fishermen myriad of opportunities highlighted by a second round of bedding bluegill.
“We had a great run in early May around the full moon, but I think June will be even hotter,” said Phillip Jordan of Meridian. “Me and my fishing partner have three lakes we like to fish, including two public lakes (Okatibbee Reservoir at Collinsville and Lake Tom Bailey at Toomsuba), and a 50-acre private lake, and we hit each one and caught all we wanted to clean every time, and that’s all we took.
“We’ve fished together for 40 years, and we’ve learned over time that nothing beats fresh fish, so why burn up a bedding area or lake on one trip putting fish in the freezer? We leave some for the new moon phases and the other full moons, and we get fresh bream throughout the summer — and everybody knows that there ain’t no better eating than fresh fried bluegill.”
But bream won’t be the only thing biting in Mississippi in June.
“That’s the peak month for catfish on big waters,” said Timmy Brown of Clinton, who fishes both Barnett Reservoir and Eagle Lake. “Catfish spawn later than most freshwater species, so they move up onto the 4- and 5-foot flats and stack up around cover.”
Brown is proficient as a jugger and a tight-liner.
“I use both methods, but I prefer reeling them in over chasing down bobbing jugs,” he said. “What I end up doing is finding them with jugs, like locating an area where I get a few bites in a small area, anchor down and cast my lines out and start catching.
“And if I get bored, I can usually find some handgrabbers wading around, and I can go watch them for entertainment. That’s something that I like to watch but would never, ever do.”
With variety in mind, here’s a list of five trips to consider in June:
1. Pickwick Lake: For all the notoriety this big lake along Mississippi’s northeast border with both Tennessee and Alabama gets as a bass fishery, it attracts more catfish anglers. Literally millions of channel and blue cats move up on the rock shelf banks to spawn in the cracks and holes.
It is a rare opportunity for fly-fishermen to test their roll-casting abilities to land a live worm near a crack and lure a fish out to feed. Don’t be surprised to find a lot of bluegill biting, too.
2. MDWFP state lakes: No way is it right to pick just one or two of the over 30 state lakes and state park lakes managed by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to send bream fishermen. Over half of them would qualify as great bluegill producers, so we will do it by region.
Down south, try Lake Perry near Beaumont or Bill Waller near Columbia. In East Central Mississippi, try Prentiss Walker Lake at Mize or Claude Bennett in rural Jasper County about 20 miles east of Bay Springs.
In the southwest, Calling Panther Lake near Crystal Springs and Mary Crawford near Monticello are excellent. In the east, Kemper County Lake near DeKalb, Tom Bailey at Toomsuba and Roosevelt State Park are hotspots.
Up north, try Trace State Park near Pontotoc, Tippah County Lake near Ripley or the newly reopened (May 6) Lamar Bruce near Saltillo.
3. Barnett Reservoir: There is no better lake for variety, especially in June, than the 50-year-old, 33,000-acre lake near Jackson.
Striped bass start schooling around Memorial Day and stay good through June on the deep ledges of the mid- to lower main lake.
Catfish — including the big flatheads targeted by grabblers — are shallow.
Schools of largemouth start blasting shad on the surface, but the big fish are usually caught punching big jigs through matted vegetation in the upper river area or by dragging a frog over the lily pads.
And, of course, there’s the crappie — and no other lake in the state can match Barnett when the weather starts heating up.
4. Mississippi River: The Big Muddy offers the best jugging action for catfish, perhaps in the world. Allowing a spread of free-floating fishing devices — nobody uses jugs any more — to flow over a sandy, shallow inside bend of the river will produce more fish than a couple of guys can skin and fillet in a day.
The Mississippi River is also an excellent place to chase white bass behind the cracks in the many rock dikes used to control the current.
5. Okhissa Lake: This U.S. Forest Service Lake near Bude in Southwest Mississippi has outstanding bluegill bedding action on the more than 600 gravel beds built during the lake’s construction, and its original stocking of Florida bass is reaching full maturity.
This is one of the few places that can threaten Mississippi’s record for largemouth (18.15 pounds).