• Fishing

    Spawning earlier than bluegills, this month is the time to begin seeking out shellcracker, a.k.a. redear or chinquapin, on one of Mississippi’s well-managed state lakes.

    Shellcracker fever is heating up

    May is widely considered to be the best month for chasing bream, but die-hard panfisher anglers know that redear sunfish — aka chinquapin, shellcracker or just redear — move into their prespawn and spawning patterns much sooner than bluegill and other sunfish species that fall under the general colloquialism of “bream.”

    March 01 at 7:00am
    In March, Mississippians who like to catch a lot of fish quick, that are good for the table, turn to the sheepshead for some hot near-shore action.

    Don’t run too far in March; saltwater fish are ready to meet you closer to your Biloxi base than you think

    The cast was a foot right of perfect, and the Boat Monkey float settled in the center of the concentric rings forming around its landing. A sea gull swooped down to check it out, only to turn away perhaps repulsed by the orange bobber —which suddenly was gone, jerked completely out of sight below the surf.

    March 01 at 7:00am
    A proven prespawn pattern for Mississippi bass is swimming a lizard, which Gary Klein uses anywhere he fishes during this magical period.

    Punch your ticket for the bass buffet

    This winter has been a butt-kicker, but Pete Ponds isn’t worried. For one thing, the bass pro from Madison has plenty of warm clothing, and he’s thinking that recent weather patterns will produce more opportunities to catch fish during the seasonal transition period known as the prespawn.

    March 01 at 7:00am
    Planer boards open up shallow water to spring crappie trollers.

    Crappie on a different plane

    By the time March rolls around, crappie fishermen across the southeast are chomping at the bit for waves of slabs to invade the shallows. And even though tight-line and long-line trolling techniques are proven winners, guides like Brad Taylor are adding another wrinkle, using planer boards to spread baits out even farther from the boat and access territory otherwise out of reach.

    March 01 at 7:00am


    There’s nothing like March in Mississippi,  when the crappie are overtaken by the urge to spawn, which puts them in range of an awful lot of fishermen with a hankering for sweet fillets. Photo by Dan Kibler.

    March 01 at 7:00am
    In a March 2015 Bassmaster Central Open on Ross Barnett, Gene Bishop of Ridgeland found big female bass on a prespawn pattern to post a victory. He’ll try to repeat March 1-3 on Barnett Reservoir.

    Bassmaster Open at Barnett Reservoir

    For the fourth time in six years, and the 13th time in its history, the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) is bringing one of its national tournaments to Barnett Reservoir. 

    February 28 at 7:00am
    A built-in 1/4-ounce leadhead and painted on glow eyes are just two features of Egret’s new Vudu Vixen.

    The Vudu Vixen

    Speckled trout and other saltwater species feed on shrimp and baitfish, shad, mullet, cocahoes and more.

    February 21 at 9:00am
    You can secure the hooks of your double rig by running one jighead through a rod guide, back up towards the other jighead and then just hooking the two together. If the guides are too small, just wrap one pigtail around the reel stem and then secure the hooks together.

    Tying and securing a double rig

    Catching speckled trout two at a time is a hallmark of an excellent fishing trip — and few rigs are better for the job than the double rig. The best way to quickly fill limits means two hooks are absolutely better than one — but how do you go about tying a double rig? 

    February 20 at 7:00am
    Instead of 24-hour predictions from the NOAA Marine forecast, the Windfinder app provides wind estimates for specific locations every three hours.

    Smartphone app provides more reliable wind forecasts

    You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Ya gotta go to know.”

    If you’re not familiar, it just means that you really don’t know the fishing conditions until you actually launch the boat and head out.

    February 15 at 3:30pm
    If you’ve located bass holding on or near the bottom, it’s hard to beat a chunky jig-and-pig in February.

    Techniques and presentation are critical

    Getting a lure to the depth at which bass are holding and keeping it in the strike zone are two requirements a fisherman must satisfy to entice a strike. How neat it would be to have a lure with a built-in transponder that would transmit its exact depth and location in relation to the bass. Such baits doesn’t exist, but finding structure or drop-offs on the sonar and the ability to feel them with a rod and line will suffice. 

    February 15 at 7:00am
    Wes Vowell broke the Neshoba County Lake record with this 14.3-pound sow caught in February 2017.

    Mississippi’s prespawn hot spots

    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.

    February 15 at 7:00am
    Having a quality depth finder on your bass boat and knowing how to use it to locate baitfish and bass is a key to better prespawn fishing.

    Get the right gear

    For prespawn bass, angler Donnie Stuart of Pelahatchie favors 17-pound braided line with a fluorocarbon leader as long as the rod he is using when not using a slip-cork. For the rod with the slip cork he uses a 10- to 12-pound monofilament. 

    February 15 at 7:00am
    Baits like hard- or soft-plastic jerkbaits or swimbaits can be fished for suspended bass early in the prespawn cycle.

    Throw what bass want

    According to Tom Holman, a biologist with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, gizzard shad tolerate cooler water better than threadfin shad. When shad die, they sink to the bottom, which is why catfish caught in winter are often gorged with threadfin picked up off the bottom.

    February 15 at 7:00am
    B’n’M Poles recently released its lineup of George Young Jr. Signature terminal tackle for catfish enthusiasts.

    B’n’M offers catfish gear

    Several years ago, West Point-based B’n’M Poles, famous for crappie rods, entered the catfishing market with their own line of catfish rods for serious catfish anglers. The lineup includes the Silver Cat and the Silver Cat Magnum in longer sizes, as well as its new Bumping rod.

    February 15 at 7:00am
    Grapple anchors work best when the claws dig into the bottom structure, but they can also get hung and can be lost.

    Strong design solves anchor problem

    Steve Strong, a veteran catfish angler, has lost count of the anchors he has sacrificed to the Mississippi River. With its myriad of rocks, logs and debris, the river bottom is tough on anchors. At over $100 a pop for commercially made anchors, he, like many catmen, makes his own anchors using steel tubing and half-inch rebar.

    February 15 at 7:00am
    In a typical six-rod set up, place at least two baited lines (1 and 6) on the break line itself. Other lines will target structure such as downed trees (2) , rock piles (3), and holes or depressions (5). The final line (4) should be straight down, to catch fish responding to active chumming.

    Thoroughly work each spot

    Fan-casting to tempt winter catfish is more than just a random presentation of baits. Once the boat has been anchored, catfish anglers must target specific features within reach of the boat.

    February 15 at 7:00am