What is finer in life than a platter of hot and crispy crappie fillets? Well, sure bass fillets are pretty good, and so are flounder, redfish and speckled trout. Fresh fish is good, and that's the reason a lot more outdoor enthusiasts fish than hunt.

Still, those thin, cornmeal-coated slivers of white perch are sure hard to beat.

Does all that talk stir your appetite for some crappie? Good. So the next question is, where would be the very best lakes to hit for heavy stringers of slab crappie?

North Mississippi from Memphis south to Grenada is littered with lakes with capital reputations for yielding good numbers of slab crappie. If you wanted to make it easy on yourself, just pick any one of the four Corps of Engineers reservoirs. Any one of them will do just fine. However, I have a favorite.


Enid Reservoir

Enid Reservoir near Oakland and Water Valley is a tremendous crappie fishery. It is a large impoundment lake of 28,000 acres right off Interstate 55. In crappie season, it is an ideal lake to pull into the large boat ramp area, put in and start working the banks almost immediately.

Enid's crappie structure is much like any quality crappie fishery. There are shallow grass flats, rocky bottoms, trailing bank edges and steep drop-offs at the bottoms of high-washed banks. Scattered everywhere is all manner of submerged cover in the way of sunken treetops and natural and man-placed tree cover like Christmas trees and cedars.

All this diverse fishing structure is perfect ground for producing crappie. The last time I fished Enid, we could hardly keep up with the rod-tip jerks from slabs grabbing our baits. Even when the wind picked up and we had to go to a chain drag on the boat, the fish kept biting. We would circle the same area in a 100-yard round about and keep catching fish the whole time.

Enid Reservoir is a wonderful crappie lake. Cossar State Park is right on site with camping and cabins. All necessary provisions can be found in nearby towns. In the north region of the state, Enid is tough to beat for crappie.


Lake Chotard

Anglers come far and wide to fish Lake Chotard. Proof of that can be found at the ramp. You see lots of plates from Arkansas and Louisiana, but I have noted them from Tennessee, Missouri, Alabama and Texas just to name a few. It really is no mystery why so many people travel to this lake to fill their ice chests with crappie.

Believe it or not, Lake Chotard is not even shown on a Mississippi State Highway Map. It is easy to find, though, wedged between Eagle Lake and Lake Albemarle north of Vicksburg from U.S. Highway 61 then west on State Highway 465. Chotard presents roughly 980 acres of water surface. This lake is a classic Mississippi Delta oxbow that is refreshed and replenished by the big river when high water pushes into the south end.

Putting in at Laney's Landing, the best crappie fishing is usually found directly across the lake from the boat ramp into and along the willow trees on the west bank. When water is high, it floods up into the trees, and smaller fishing craft can be maneuvered into the thick of it.

The crappie tactic here is to drop shiners or crappie jigs via long-reach crappie poles right beside the tree trunks. Crappie seem to huddle up alongside these willows. Anglers can work this area all day and keep catching slabs when the fishing action is hot.

Other areas on Chotard worth checking out are along the east-side banks, especially where old trees have eroded from the bank and tipped over into the lake. The tops of those trees should be worked carefully in depths that can vary from a few feet to 10-15 feet.


Bill Waller, Columbia

Due west of Hattiesburg on Highway 98 then 10 miles southeast of Columbia are two lakes worthy of some serious crappie fishing time. Lakes Bill Waller and Columbia are close enough together that in theory they could easily be fished on the same day.

Lakes Waller and Columbia are small. Waller is 168 acres, and Columbia is only 84 acres. The structure includes a lot of standing dead trees, sunken trees, stumps and conventional crappie hiding cover. Each of these patches of cover has to be fished with some measure of patience. A quick pass through won't get the job done. Just keep dropping baits over and over.

On Bill Waller, crappie are consistently caught in deep water along the main-lake points in depths of 10-14 feet and up next to the dam. On Lake Columbia, white perch are also caught along the dam in about 10 feet of water. Working jigs slowly here seems to do the trick.

Mississippi has countless crappie lakes scattered from north to south and all in between. So get some vacation days or long weekends organized, and get after them. Be sure to get some extra peanut oil and another bag of cornmeal.