The Magnolia State has hundreds of bodies of water where bass can be caught, but some are simply better than others at different times of the year and bass cycles.

For instance, not every lake is stocked with Florida-strain bass, and knowing which members of the largemouth family are present is important. Water clarity is also important, especially for sight-fishing bedding bass.

A good place to start is the MDWFP’s system of state lakes, many of which have been renovated, restocked and rejuvenated. Stocked primarily with Florida-strain bass, years 3 through 12 are the best for targeting these fast-growing fish. They are easy to catch in years 3 through 5, since they are naïve. It’s in the next handful of years when they are at trophy stage and still a little ignorant.

A lot of factors dictate a lake’s productivity during the pre-spawn, when the vast majority of the biggest fish are caught. After research, here is Mississippi Sportsman’s list of the best lakes for prespawn bass.

• Neshoba County Lake near Philadelphia was restocked more than 10 years ago, and a lake record was set in February 2017 with a 14.3-pound female. According to lake manager Chuck Hazlewood, the bass have plenty of cover, and bass stocked in 2005 should have reached peak maturity. With back-to-back lake records set last year there is no reason to believe another record couldn’t be set in 2018.

• Lake Jeff Davis, restocked in 2011, can be added to the list. Just six years in, the lake-record bass, 12.6 pounds, was caught in March 2017.

 “Jeff Davis is approaching its peak and I believe there are bigger fish there,” said Jerry Brown, a fisheries biologist for the MDWFP. 

According to Larry Bull, assistant chief of fisheries for MDWFP, these lakes should produce fish heavier than 10 pounds in the near future:

 • Lake Tangipahoa at Percy Quinn State Park was stocked with Florida bass in 2014. The biggest bass caught since it was reopened is 10.5 pounds.

• Stocked in 2013, Lake Lamar Bruce boasts a lake record of 9.2 pounds caught in July 2017. Historically known as a bream fishing paradise, Lamar Bruce could be a sleeper when it comes to big bass.

* Lake Monroe was stocked with Florida bass in 2015, and reopened to fishing in 2017. Go there for numbers now, but look for it to become a trophy-bass location with fish in excess of 10 pounds in a few years.