Mississippi’s top crappie lakes are well documented, gaining national exposure as some of the best in the country — Grenada, Sardis, Arkabutla, Enid (which has held the world record for white crappie since 1955), Washington and Ross Barnett.
There’s Eagle Lake and the Tenn-Tom Waterway, too, and the scores of old oxbow lakes in the Delta — Tunica Cutoff, Wolf, Bee, Ferguson and Mary.
But the list of productive lakes certainly doesn’t end there, and hotspots can be found in all shapes and sizes in all areas of Mississippi.
That even includes South Mississippi, where two Pat Harrison Waterway District lakes, Flynt Creek Water Park near Wiggins and Maynor Creek Water Park near Waynesboro head the list.
On the opposite end, in the northeast, Pickwick Lake is excellent as is its neighbor Bay Springs Lake. These are challenging options for most Mississippians because of the extreme depths at which slabs can be caught.
Even if by accident, many of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks’ state lakes and state parks can be counted on for some excellent crappie fishing. Most of these small impoundments were never meant to be crappie lakes, but thanks to some well-meaning fishermen who thought better and secretly transplanted fish from other lakes, they have developed good fisheries.
Later, the MDWFP developed the Magnolia crappie, a cross between the two native species — white and black crappie — which, because of shocking at the larval stage, cannot reproduce. The agency now stocks the Magnolia crappie in many of its waters, since the population can be managed by put and take.
Some of the best state lakes include Prentiss Walker near Mize, Claude Bennett near Bay Springs, Calling Panther near Crystal Springs and Lake Lincoln State Park lake near Wesson in the south; and Kemper County Lake near DeKalb and Elvis Presley Lake at Tupelo.
Saving the best for last, Mississippi’s best-kept secret hotspot is Lake Okatibbee near Collinsville about 15 miles northwest of Meridian.
This 4,100-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers impoundment has a very healthy population of crappie. In April, the clear waters of the Gin Creek area hold spawners, especially in years when submerged vegetation is plentiful.
The rest of the year, the best action is found in and along the main Okatibbee Creek channel, where trolling can keep a two-man boat crew hopping from pole to pole.