Bassing Turkey Fork Lake in June

Drag crankbaits through stake beds and gravel pads on Turkey Fork this month to get your line stretched.

It’s all about targeting fish habitat

The closest town to 250-acre Turkey Fork Lake, my pick for June bassing, is Sand Hill. This lake on federal land has been rehabilitated recently, and reopened in December 2013.

And it is really kicking out some good bass. The lake was drained down to about 50 acres, was channelized and a lot of fish habitat was put into the lake. The lake was down for about 1 ½ years before it filled back up in the late fall of 2013.

At the first of April 2014, the lake was electrofished, and biologists shocked up an 11-pounder, a 10-pounder and a 9-pounder, along with some 6- to  7-pounders, before releasing them back into the lake.

Turkey Fork is healthy, and besides holding big bass, it also is producing good numbers of bass.

Some of the fish habitat put into the lake includes 4-by-4 stake beds, which all have been marked. The government also has built numbers of gravel beds on which the bluegills can spawn. You also can get the GPS waypoints for those bream beds.

I’ll be fishing Turkey Fork with a Mann’s C4 crankbait and a 15+ crankbait.

I want a crankbait that will dig the bottom in the 5- to 9-foot range, as well as 2 to 5 feet deep.

I like a blue-backed crankbait with chartreuse sides fished on 12-pound-test Berkley 100% fluorocarbon line. I’ll be using a Pinnacle 6.4:1 gear ratio reel and a Pinnacle medium-diving crankbait rod.

I’ll concentrate my bassing on the fish habitat that’s been put in the lake, staying on the move and going from habitat to habitat.

I’ll fish each habitat with one of the two crankbaits I’ve mentioned, and then I’ll fish that same habitat with a ½-ounce green-pumpkin Stone jig with an Okeechobee-colored crawfish as a trailer.

Finally, I’ll cast a 9-inch june bug-colored or green-pumpkin Mann’s Jelly Worm to the bass.


I want to cast a crankbait past those 4-by-4 stake beds, reel it through the beds and make the crankbait bounce off those wooden slats.

I’ll also fish a crankbait through the gravel beds where the bluegills will spawn most of the summer, since there are always bass around bluegill beds.

The only time I’ll hesitate the crankbait is when I feel it hit the bottom or one of those boards; I’ll pause the crankbait for about 1 to 2 seconds before speeding up my retrieve.

Generally my strikes come when I pause the crankbait.

Always fish the crankbait fast, except when it hits the bottom or the cover to try and trigger a reaction strike by actively feeding bass. I’ll fish a crankbait as long as it’s catching bass.

Jig and plastic worms

When the crankbait bite slows down, I’ll go to the Stone jig and fish it slowly through the cover to catch inactive bass.

I’ll fish the plastic worm the same way. I’ll have a ¼-ounce slip sinker ahead of the worm.

When fishing either a jig or a worm, I’ll us 17-pound-test Berkley 100% fluorocarbon line with a Pinnacle 7.3:1 reel and a 7-foot 8-inch medium-heavy Pinnacle rod.

What you’ll catch

Using all three of these tactics, you’ll catch a mixture of small and large bass.

When the lake filled back up, it wasn’t restocked. Once the lake was drawn down to about 50 acres, the bluegills and other bait fish in the lake were easily accessible to the bass, resulting in the bass putting on lots of weight during that time.

When the lake was brought back up and additional habitat was added, the 200 acres that hadn’t been underwater became very fertile, and the new habitat helped the bass distribute throughout the lake.

Turkey Fork Lake isn’t as big a secret as you might think. Since there’s so much fishing at the lake on the weekends, I recommend you fish there in the middle of the week.

Your five best bass could weigh 20 to 25 pounds, but you’ll also catch bass there that weigh 1 ½ pounds.

Be aware that Turkey Fork has a slot limit that’s 18 to 22 inches, which means the bass in that range must be thrown back. It is very important that all anglers cooperate with this slot limit. If we do, Turkey Fork Lake has the potential to be one of Mississippi’s best trophy bass lakes.

Anglers can keep 10 bass less than 18 inches long per day, and in that 10 bass limit you can have one bass 22 inches or longer.

The bluegill fishing is outstanding, primarily because when the lake was pulled down, the lake’s crowded bass population fed on the numbers of small bluegills in the water. Today only the big bluegills are left in the lake to spawn.

Also, with the creation of the gravel beds for spawning bluegills, the habitat has greatly been improved.

The only fish due to be stocked in the lake in the future will be shad and catfish. Since the bass population is healthy, there’s no need to stock bass.

Paul Elias
About Paul Elias 151 Articles
Paul Elias, of Laurel, has fished 15 Bassmaster Classics with career winnings of over $1 million, including one Bassmaster Classic Championship. Elias also holds the current record for a four-day BASS tournament weigh-in with 132 pounds, 8 ounces, on Falcon Lake in Texas.

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