You better believe that January has some hot fishing opportunities in Mississippi, and these five are our picks for the month.
1. Davis Lake, Tombigbee National Forest:
Don’t go to this 200-acre lake looking to catch a mess of bass for a January fish fry. Absolutely not; you will be wasting your time. “What you go to Davis Lake for in January is one bite,” said Jeff Foster of Tupelo, whose one bite several years ago on an early January morning produced a 17.3-pound bass, the second-largest largemouth ever reported in Mississippi. “Take a shaky head worm rig and just throw it and fish it slow on deep structure until you get a bite. You might not get one, and you might get two or three. But it only takes that one bite to produce a fish of a lifetime.”
2. Barnett Reservoir:
The Rez was red-hot in December, and January is traditionally better than December when it comes to crappie fishing. As David Hawkins’ feature in this edition tells us, the spillway is a great spot to visit after heavy rains force the release of water at the dam. Until then, fishing the edges of the creeks and rivers is the ticket.
3. Eagle, Albermarle and Chotard oxbows:
No doubt about it, go over to these three Mississippi River oxbows north of Vicksburg and fish for suspended crappie. On Eagle Lake, target black crappie under the piers and boathouses on the Mississippi bank; the Louisiana side is too shallow. Most of the fish are caught fishing jigs 3 to 4 feet deep in deeper water. To reach the connected oxbows, Albermarle and Chotard, pass by Eagle Lake and turn right once on the levee. Signs point the way to Laney’s and Chotard Landings. Once on the water, use electronics to find suspended schools of fish in deep water and then troll and/or drift through them with jigs tipped with minnows.
4. Coastal rivers:
The Pascagoula, Biloxi and Jordan river systems on the Gulf Coast are excellent in January, especially if it’s a dry month without a lot of freshwater running in the rivers. The Pascagoula is a great late-winter trout producer, with deep holes holding the big specks. The Biloxi and its partner, the Tchoutacabouffa, produce great largemouth action on their upper ends, but any cast is also subject to bring a bite from a speck, redfish or puppy drum. A personal favorite of this writer is targeting the US 90 bridge pilings at the mouth of the Jordan River in Bay St. Louis. Big sheepshead, puppy drum and redfish all use those pilings to ambush baitfish. Bridges on the other rivers work, too, but Bay St. Louis is the best.
5. Tenn-Tom Waterway:
Whether trophy fishing for a monster flathead or blue cat, or just trying fill an icebox with keeper-sized and fun-to-eat channel catfish, Columbus Lake on the Tenn-Tom Waterway is the place to be. According to local knowledge, unless the water is 50 degrees or more, forget the big ones and go for the smaller ones. Look for stumpy areas off the main channel with water between 7 and 20 feet and use cut bait on a 5/0 hook to catch blues and channels from one to 15 pounds.