The long-ago-now sound of ATVs running in the deer woods has been replaced by outboard motors running on Mississippi lakes.

Spring has finally sprung in its full glory, and anglers cannot wait to get at it full time. Turkey season is over, so there is nothing in the way but yard work and other honey-does. Gentlemen, start your engines.

Volley across the bow

The first signal to get anglers excited this year started way back in January. Chris Bates at Mean Mallard brought in outside help to conduct a flyfishing seminar. That's a first as far as I can remember. Flyfishing in Mississippi? Sure why not.

Of course, the seminar fulfilled the expectations of anglers interested in traveling out west where flyfishing gear is the preferred way of working over those pristine trout and salmon waters.

A little has been written over the years about going the flyfishing route in Mississippi, but I have yet to run into a local fishing enthusiast who does it. Certainly there are enough shallow areas around our state lakes, small rivers and streams to support the habit. Though I have never flyfished myself, it does appear to be a challenging way to go after a feisty largemouth bass.

If interested, check out the Mean Mallard on Highway 51 north in Jackson. They are a full-line Orvis dealer now, and should have everything an aspiring flyfishing angler could want.

First invitation to fish

It was also an early signal to me when outdoors buddy Kerry French of Brandon called late in January to suggest working on lining up a day to hit the crappie out on Ross Barnett Reservoir. Of course, my bad luck at fishing is legendary going way back to my dad who has to have been the all-time unluckiest fisherman I ever knew. I think I inherited the trait, and it rubs off on all my friends.

When I was a kid, we could sit in a boat on Kentucky Lake right next to other boats pulling in white perch as fast as they could put a silver shiner on a hook. We caught nothing. When family friends at home conjured up a big neighborhood fish fry, Dad always brought the cole slaw or the hushpuppies. He was a terror with a pork shoulder on the barbecue pit, though.

The last time Kerry called last summer, he reported that the crappie were flying out of the water and jumping right into the boat. Yeah, I've heard that one before. Though this time I might have believed it because local reports coming in were saying the "Rez" was having some of the hottest crappie fishing going in years.

When we hit the channel heading north of the Highway 43 bridge, the wind was blowing at a crisp clip. Traditionally that's a bad omen, and it worked again this time. Oh, we had a great time, but the fishing was slow. I think we finally hauled in a dozen white perch, but only a few managed slab size. What they say is true, though: A bad day on the lake is better than a good one behind the desk.

Finding fish hotspots

So the point here is to get cracking and find yourself a place to be wetting a fishing line if you've been putting it off so far. Mississippi has some tremendous reservoirs up and down Interstate 55 from Jackson to Memphis. All of those impoundments are great lakes for crappie fishing, even if you don't own a boat and have to toss a line from one of the rock banks. If you have a bass rig, then start working the banks and submerged logs with spinners and top baits.

If you like slow-paced fishing, then head west to one of the many Mississippi River oxbow lakes like Eagle or Chotard north of Vicksburg. All you need is a good flat-bottomed johnboat with a 5-horsepower motor, some crappie poles and a "minner" bucket.

On Chotard the best places to drop a line are on the west side of the lake against the willow trees. If the lake is high with water out into the timber, then the fishing is all the better. Just look for all the other fishing boats.

A number of anglers in the state like a good canoe float down a river or stream. What better opportunity to make casts along the way? I can't think of a river or stream in the state that doesn't offer some fishing opportunity.

The Big Black is famous for catfish, and Black Creek south of Hattiesburg is ideal for canoe floats and light gear casting for bass. Spillway rivers like the Pearl coming out of Ross Barnett are good bets, too.

So many options, so little time, as they say, certainly describes fishing availability in Mississippi. Now is the time to clean out the tackle box, restock lures, put new line on reels, get the boat ready to go, and schedule a day off work to catch some fish for the deep fryer.