I’ll plan to fish relatively shallow Okatibbee Reservoir in December because rarely does Mississippi have enough cold water to drive bass into deep water.
When Okatibbee goes through a winter drawdown, the bass move to the underwater creek and river channel edges. You can locate those edges with your depth finder.
I depend on three lures in December to catch bass: a black/blue Mann’s ½-ounce Stone Jig, the Reel ‘N Shad and a Carolina-rigged plastic worm.
I’ll fish the early mornings on the dam riprap with topwater lures like the Zara Spook and the Pop R on 30-pound braided line.
Using a 7.5:1 Team Lew’s reel on a 6-10 Lew’s medium-action rod, I’ll retrieve these lures slowly, due to the bass’ metabolism having slowed down.
I’ll walk the Zara Spook back to the boat, letting the bait glide until it stops and then twitching my rod tip to make the lure swim slowly in the opposite direction until it stops.
I’ll give the Pop R a slight snap, allow it to sit still, pop it, move it forward and let it sit still again.
If bass are surface feeding, I’ll cast to the schooling fish and work those baits somewhat faster, right over the spot and away from the location they’re feeding.
Before I leave the riprap or the schooling bass, I’ll swim the Stone Jig at a 45-degree angle from the riprap to the boat through the places where the bass have been schooling.
I’ll use 20-pound fluorocarbon on the same reel that is mounted to a 7-3 medium-heavy Team Lew’s rod, making fairly long casts but not throwing the jig as far as I can (to ensure I can get solid hook sets).
On a sunny day, bass will move more shallow than at the first of the morning. The sun will heat up the rocks on the riprap, which will warm up the nearby shallow water and cause baitfish and bass to move shallow.
So I’ll shallow up my swimming jig. This Stone Jig pattern catches bass all day.
Okatibbee’s east arm has a breakwater wall at the marina. I’ll fish my Stone Jig and topwater lures around that breakwater.
Next, I’ll fish a shad-colored Reel ’N Shad on the breakwater wall and the riprap with a ¼-ounce head and fluorocarbon line with a 6-10 medium rod.
I’ll also cast the lure to schooling bass when I spot them, but I will let it sink somewhat deeper in the water than usual, reel it a short way, kill the bait and let it fall to the bottom.
This technique of fishing means the Reel ’N Shad might get hung up in the bottom. However, this tactic gets bass to bite.
In December, as the water cools off, bass don’t want to chase bait and aren’t as active or aggressive; if you kill the bait and let it fall, you might trigger a reaction strike.
After the bass quit biting on the rocks, I’ll go to Gin Creek’s channel, with its numerous stumps, and fish it all the way out until it connects with the Okatibbee Creek channel. If the water’s low and not muddied, you’ll spot some of those stumps.
I’ll continue to cast the ½-ounce Stone Jig and the Reel ’N Shad toward the flats, bringing the lure over the lip of the break. Once the lure reaches the deep water side of the channel, I’ll kill the bait and allow it to fall to the bottom.
The third tactic I’ll use will be the Carolina-rigged green pumpkin HardNose lizard on the flats, bringing the rig past and through the stumps and letting it fall off the lip of the break on the creek channels.
I’ll use a 7-6 medium-heavy rod with 50-pound braid as my main line, a 1- or ½-ounce lead up the line, a bead under the lead and a barrel swivel with 3 feet of 26-pound White Peacock fluorocarbon line with a 5/0 hook.
Unless you’re fishing on a December day when Okatibbee’s bass are actively schooling, you won’t take large numbers of bass, but you can expect to catch 10 to 12 bass. The lake has been producing some nice fish, with an abundance of 3- to 5-pounders.