Editor’s Note: Our 12-month tour of state fishing lakes across the entire state ends at a place crappie anglers will love as winter arrives – Lake Lincoln State Park near Wesson.
Fans of crispy fried crappie will savor the last stop of our year-long tour of the best state-run fishing lakes in Mississippi, especially those who love in the southwest and central areas of the state and have a holiday taste for fish.
In December, crappie anglers need to plan a trip to Lincoln County to spend a day or more fishing the 550 acres that make up Lake Lincoln at Lake Lincoln State Park in Wesson.
It is pretty typical of a standard crappie lake, consisting of an impoundment dam containing Ford’s Creek, which winds through the northeastern part of Lincoln County. With depth averages that range from 0–3 feet in the lake’s vast spawning flats on the western end of the lake and an ample deep-water basin that reaches 25-30 feet along the impoundment dam, Lake Lincoln has earned a long time reputation as a producer of slab crappie.
Park employee Randy Chance grew up in the surrounding area and has hunted and fished in northeast Lincoln County since he was old enough to walk. Chance said he fishes the lake at every opportunity, at least once a week on a year-round basis.
Chance said the lake used to have a strong reputation for its largemouth bass fishery and admits there are still some good ones in the lake, but most anglers who travel and stay here come for the white crappie.
“Our state biologists did a survey this spring,” said Chance. “They were going to stock it with some more white perch but the surveys showed they didn’t need to. We had three real big rains, back in February, March, and April this year that blew out a pond that was over-populated with crappie upstream. All of those fish wound up here plus we had a double spawn last year in the lake.”
How productive is Lincoln? About a decade ago, when the U.S. Forest Service needed crappie to stock in its new Okhissa Lake near Bude, biologists collected them at Lake Lincoln to release in Okhissa.
Surveying the surrounding area, Lake Lincoln simply looks like a good crappie lake, with admittedly more fishing pressure on the weekends during the spring. December means more sportsmen are in the woods than on the water and during the week, the lake is practically deserted.
Typical water temps for this time of year range from in the 50s and 60s, which the lake’s crappie population find to their liking. Chance also said he can narrow the search area down to about 100 to 150 acres. He prefers to follow the contours of the old creek channel and will stay on the lower end of the lake this time of year.
Chance said his best crappie fishing tactic is spider-rigging for slow vertical trolling, looking for fish that are relating to the edge of the old channel and he figures out the pattern for the day or the week or even the season by following the creek beds.
“I don’t get up close to the levee because of the rocks and stuff that line the side of the dam,” he said. “I mainly follow the creek beds. I’m a creek bed man. In this lake, the skiing area is your deepest part of the creek bed. Once you get out of the skiing area, the creek goes to one side of the lake and it runs right up against the far tree line.”
Every crappie troller has his favorite set up, either single- or double-hook rigs that consist of crappie jigs, live bait hooks baited with minnows or a combination of the two. Chance’s favorite set-up is to slow troll single jigs from each rod. He may run six or eight rods on his boat but there is no rod limit, just a matter of how many each angler can handle.
Depending on the attitude and depth of the fish, he likes a heavier jig, either a 3/32 ounce or a quarter ounce to tempt the crappie that are naturally prone to suspend up off the bottom of the lake.
“If I’m fishing 20 feet of water, I’ll put my jigs down around 15 to 18 feet and follow the creek bed,” said Chance. “Years ago, I used to be a big fan of minnow fishing, but I always had trouble keeping them alive during the heat of summer so I switched over to jigs, something in chartreuse is my favorite color. I prefer just straight jigs now. I don’t have to mess with minnows unless they just won’t hit the jigs, but that rarely happens anymore.”
As far as sizes of crappie, Chance said the influx of smaller crappie from upstream has brought that number down, but it’s not for a lack of fish. He said the lake maintains good populations of 12- to 14-inch white crappie and he’s caught them up to 17 inches from the lake.
It’s also not just the length of fish that makes Lake Lincoln crappie impressive size wise, he said there’s also plenty for the fish to eat in the lake and they stay fat and healthy all year long.
“This lake hatches a lot of insects, dragonflies and mayflies and the like,” he said. “Plus it’s got a big mussel population that’s not only good for the crappie but the bream and catfish too. The crappie feed mostly on shad because there are big schools of shad in the lake as well.”
Local angler Wilson Moore who lives near Brookhaven said he has his best luck at Lake Lincoln by simply finding and marking brush piles in the lake. He said once he finds a brush pile, he will mark it with a floating buoy then ease over that spot with his trolling motor and a jig pole.
“This time of year, the fish are usually deep so you don’t have to worry about the boat spooking them,” said Moore. “I’ll look for the highest spot I can find on a brush top or if’s it’s just wide and not too tall, I’ll try to drop the buoy right in the middle. That way I know everywhere I can reach with the pole will be right over the brush and that’s where those perch like to sit.”
Moore said the state has put a lot of Christmas trees in over the past year and he and some of the other regular anglers have built their own honey holes in the lake. He remembered when the lake was drawn down about 10 years ago and some natural stuff grew up while the lake was down. He knows a few of those areas still produce but mostly it’s the planted stuff plus some of the old stumps that are still around when the lake was originally cleared that hold most of the big crappie.
“They get fat in December because it’s not so cold that they won’t bite and they eat a lot of smaller fish,” he said. “You can ease around a good brush pile and put one of those thick plastic jigs with a tail on it or a hair jig straight down. If I don’t get a bite, you can stick a minnow on there or spray it with some fish attraction and that’s about all it takes to get them back started.”
Location: Nestled in the shade of towering hardwood trees, Lake Lincoln State Park is the quintessence of serenity. Located in the northeast corner of Lincoln County, the park’s close proximity to Interstate 55, U.S. Highway 51 and Mississippi Highway 27 provides easy access for visitors. The street address is 2573 Sunset Road NE, Wesson, MS 39191. GPS – N31 67.675 W90 32.717
December fishing tactics: According to Park employee Randy Chance, Lake Lincoln State Park has a decent population of bass and bream, but the best bet for December is crappie.
Crappie: With water temperatures cooling off, white crappie will be found suspending in the deeper water areas near the dam. Multiple-pole slow-trolling tactics typically work best using live minnows, jigs or a combination of the two trolled slowly over the bottom. Crappie are fond of suspending over the deep water drop-offs you can find on the lower end of the lake where the creek channel rises out of the main lake basin.
Bass: On sunny days, bass may be caught cruising into shallow flats looking for warmer water and something to eat, but will not be willing to chase a bait very hard in the cold water. Try a slow-retrieved crankbait or slow-rolled spinnerbait.
Bream: Like crappie, bream will be lethargic but grouped together in tight schools, most likely hanging out around deep-water brush piles or other wood structure. A cricket or red worm tight lined down to the school is the best bet.
Boating: Boats of any size allowed, but the lake has a trolling speed only policy for all areas of the lake except the designated water ski area.
Use fees: A day-use entry fee is charged on a per vehicle basis. Private vehicle entrance fee is $4 plus 50 cents for each person over 6 people.
Accomodations/camping: There are several options when it comes to staying overnight. Lake Lincoln offers 71 RV campsites, one cabin and three cottages. An online reservation system is hosted by Reserve America. The 50 lakeside sites are available for RV camping that features water, electricity, and sewer. Each site has a picnic table and a grill. A comfort station that features hot showers, washers and dryers, vending machines, and a sitting area is located inside the campground. Lake Lincoln has one cabin that features central heat and air conditioning, a screened porch, two queen beds, kitchen and living area. The cabin is furnished with bed and bath linens and basic kitchen equipment. Lake Lincoln also features three new cottages. Each cottage has central heat and air, are equipped with Direct TV, refrigerator, stove, microwave and coffee pot. Bed and bath linens are NOT provided. Cottage 1 and 2 are two bedrooms, one bath and will sleep 4 people.
Cottage 3 is ADA accessible, has three bedrooms, one bath and sleeps 6 people.
Each cottage features a porch with patio furniture, barbeque grill, picnic table and provides an excellent view of Lake Lincoln. Reservations are highly recommended.
Information: Online — https://www.mdwfp.com/parks-destinations/state-parks/lake-lincoln; phone — (601) 643-9044; email — firstname.lastname@example.org