State fisheries biologist Jerry Brown provided some behind-the-scenes information that can help fishermen choose hot spots this month, and even later in the year, in Central and Southwest Mississippi.
For crappie, Brown suggests either Eagle Lake north of Vicksburg or Wolf Lake north of Yazoo City. His nod to Eagle was based on angler reports from early February and the mention of Wolf is based more on research.
“Eagle is producing some big fish right now, and a strong year class from 2013 is expected to be over the 11-inch minimum length limit this season,” said Brown of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, stressing how fast fish grow at the old oxbow lake — crappie can reach 10 inches in two years.
“At Wolf Lake, we collected high numbers of crappie of all sizes, and the fish were healthy,” he said.
For bass, Brown said that a top choice would be Jeff Davis Lake, an MDWFP lake near Prentiss that was restocked in 2011.
“The initial stock of Florida-strain largemouth bass will be 5 years old, and we expect to hear of trophy size fish being caught,” added Brown. “The protective slot limit for largemouth bass at Lake Jeff Davis was increased to 18-24 inches, and anglers are allowed to harvest one bass over 24 inches.”
For fishermen who like the challenge of beating bass on a natural oxbow, Brown said the connected oxbows of Chotard and Albermale lakes are a must visit. There is no concern over the effects of winter flooding.
“We’ve seen improved fisheries at connecting oxbows along the Mississippi River during fall and winter sampling,” Brown said. “We collected high numbers of largemouth bass and bluegill at Chotard and Albemarle Lakes, and anglers reported improved catches at those and other oxbows during fall 2015.
“Recent flooding will not adversely affect game fish populations. Fish move onto the floodplain during high water, and return to the oxbows as the water level decreases.”