October is most noted among outdoorsmen for the hunting opportunities it brings Mississippians, but for fishermen, especially those who do not enjoy the shooting sports, October is about as good as it gets.

The summer, and its annoying heat, is in the rear view mirror, and the extremely cold days of winter are still many miles down the road. Making it even better, a lot of fishermen go hunting, relieving the pressure that many public waters have.

“If there’s a better month to fish,” said Dan Smith of Ridgeland, “I don’t know what it could be. October is so fine both for fresh and salt water and I plan to do both.”

Smith is an avid bass angler, who hates going elbow-to-elbow with other fishermen over a fishing spot.

“I don’t care if it’s a big lake like Barnett Reservoir or the Tenn-Tom Waterway, or a big subdivision lake or a smaller state lake, in the spring and summer you are going to have to fight for fishing space,” he said. “I don’t really mean coming to blows but sometimes you feel like it. If somebody sees you catch a fish or two, they’re headed your way.

“In October, it’s not that bad. People start going to deer camp or to dove hunt and even to football games, and that leaves the lakes open to the rest of us. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the fishing gets better and better every day.”

October has three world-class options for freshwater fishing. The first is trolling for crappie with crankbaits at Grenada and Sardis Lakes in north Mississippi. The second is bass fishing in Barnett Reservoir, the first cool snap sends the shad migrating up the river looking for backwaters or looking for backwaters on the main lake itself. The third is catfish in the Tenn-Tom Waterway lakes in Northeast Mississippi.

Smith also schedules at least one or two marsh trips to the Mississippi Coast in October.

“Redfish for days, and if you can find a good oyster bed, you can put some big speckled trout in the boat, too,” he said. “The hard part about redfish trips is finding keepers. You run into the huge schools of big bull reds that, even though you know you ought to leave them and look for slot fish to keep, you simply can’t do it. It’s too much fun.”

October is also the time that Gulf fishermen can start targeting the bridge pilings in the mouth of Bay St. Louis and Biloxi Bay to catch redfish, black drum and sheepshead.

“It’s an easy trip,” Smith said. “The ride is short and those pilings hold a lot of fish.”