Calling Panther is the lake, and March is the month to catch a bass of a lifetime. But to get that monster bass, you'll have to fight for it. You'll have to go where no one else goes and fish like most anglers don't like to fish.

Calling Panther, a 500-acre lake located south of Jackson near Crystal Springs, is one of the newer lakes in Mississippi, and it's producing some really big bass. March is spawning time at Calling Panther, and this month is a perfect time to catch the lake's bass at their maximum weights. Most of these fish will be in shallow water.


Dam bass first

I start off fishing the rocks at the dam by cranking the riprap with a Mann C4 crankbait in the crawfish color on 15-pound-test fluorocarbon line with a Pinnacle 7:1 gear-ratio reel and a cranking rod. I'll fish parallel to the riprap and bang the C4 off the rocks. Most of the bass will be holding in 1 to 2 feet of water near the rocks because that's some of the warmest water in the lake. The rocks absorb the heat of the sun and radiate that heat out into the water. That warm water attracts baitfish, which draw in bass. The bass also will spawn on these rocks.

Although I'll start fishing with a Mann's C4 crankbait, I'm not hardheaded. If for some reason the bass don't want it, I'll begin fishing the 3/8-ounce Mann's Classic spinnerbait with a chartreuse/white skirt and two Indiana blades - the front one silver and the back blade gold. I'll have a white Mann's spinnerbait trailer behind the skirt.


Fight for monster bass

Calling Panther has a lot of standing timber and plenty of water that's not easily accessible because of that. I look for shallow water on the backside of that timber where most fishermen won't take their bass boats. These areas receive far-less pressure than the easy-to-reach spots in the timber. You really have to work your way through the timber and push and shove to reach the more-productive spots. Once you get to the region close to the bank, you'll often find some of the biggest females in the lake in extremely-shallow water, trying to spawn.

I'll fish a Mann's HardNose Tube in black/blue flake and a watermelon-red 5-inch Mann's HardNose Freefall Worm. I generally start-out fishing the HardNose Tube and use a 1/8-ounce slip sinker up the line, rigging it Texas style with a No. 5/0 Gamakatsu wide-gap hook.

If I can see the bed, I'm going to pitch the tube to the bed. But if I can't spot any beds, I'll pitch the tube to any shoreline cover I can see after getting as close as I can to the beds or cover I'm pitching to and being as quiet as possible in my boat.

I'll primarily be sight-fishing the tube on 20-pound-test fluorocarbon line. When I see a bed with a big bass on it, I'll put Power-Pole shallow-water anchors down to hold the boat as still as possible and pitch the tube to the bed to provoke the bass into biting.

Many times, the bass will take the tube as soon as it hits the water. Or I may have to shake, hop and twitch the tube to aggravate the fish into biting. When you're fishing like this, you'll be fishing for one bass at a time. If I can't get that fish to bite after spending 30 minutes, I'll leave it and look for another one. Then I'll return to that same bass later in the day, keep my boat farther away and make a long cast to it.


Know Calling Panther

Most anglers won't work as hard as you need to work to get your boat back where those big females will be spawning. Numbers of bass here will weigh more than 10 pounds, but this lake receives intense fishing pressure.

Oftentimes the trick to catching bass at Calling Panther is not just hooking them, but setting the hook and getting them out of the timber before they break the line. That's why I start off trying to catch the bass as close to the boat as I can without spooking them. When that fish inhales that tube, I'll use my flipping rod and reel to power it to the boat as fast as I can. I want the fight to be right beside the boat and not close to the cover where the bass are bedding.

Often this lake will really be clear, and you may be able to spot the bass on the beds from a great distance. When I have to make a really long cast to the fish to keep from spooking it or can't get the bass to bite the tube, that's when I'll fish the Mann's HardNose Freefall Worm on 20-pound test fluorocarbon line to several different beds while I hold my boat stable.

On any given day in March, two anglers should be able to catch 25 bass in a day at Calling Panther. The odds are really good that you'll catch a fish that weighs 7 pounds and have a chance at a double-digit bass.