Where to go: Veteran crappie angler Les Smith has friends who have successfully used power-trolling techniques all across the country, but he knows how well it works on north Mississippi’s four U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control lakes along the state’s I-55 crappie corridor.
* Arkabutla Lake is the northernmost reservoir on the famed 1-55 Mississippi crappie corridor. It’s on the Coldwater River approximately four miles north of the small community of Arkabutla in DeSoto and Tate counties.
* Sardis Lake is located on the Tallahatchie River approximately 30 miles south of Arkabutla Lake and 20 miles north of Lake Enid. It is approximately 10 miles northwest of Oxford.
* Lake Enid, famous for producing Fred Bright’s world record 5-pound, 3-ounce crappie in 1955, is on the Yocona River 12 miles south of Batesville at the town of Enid.
* Grenada Lake, the largest, is the consensus selection as the best crappie destination in the world, famous for its 3-pound fish.
(Editor’s Note: Though not a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control project, Barnett Reservoir near Jackson is the southern end of the I-55 crappie corridor, and it too consistently ranks in the top 30 top crappie destinations in the country.)
For a complete listing of available public boat ramps and launches on Mississippi’s reservoirs by name, visit the MDWFP website and go to the Ramp & Piers page at http://home.mdwfp.com/Fisheries/rampspiers
Best Tactics: While many anglers choose to longline crankbaits for crappie during the summer months, Smith offers that power trolling Road Runner heads with a variety of skirts allows a more precise depth and location presentation. The tactic is similar to tight line trolling for crappie except that a 2- or 3-ounce egg weight is used to keep the baits down 15 to 20 feet where crappie spend the summer. Trolling speeds are also accelerated, falling between .9 and 1.5 miles per hour. The combination of speed and heavy weight requires the use of a stout trolling rod, one with enough backbone to take the abuse but no so much as to rip hooks free. The double bait rigs are trolled using a variable speed trolling motor with rod placed in reinforced rod holders. Anglers sit side-by-side in the front of the boat keeping watch on the heavily weighted rod tips as well as the graph. Sharp contour lines such as ledges, drop-offs and creek channels where baitfish gather provide the best action.