December’s lesser-known fishing hot spots

Fishermen along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast get a Christmas gift each December, as various species including the highly-prized flounder, move into inshore waters and can be readily caught.

Mississippi Sportsman usually names the five hottest fishing spots each month. There’s a feature in the December issue called Winter fish fry that gives you December’s Top 5 fishing patterns and where to use them. But this month we also wanted to give you the second five best places to fish.

So here are the best of the rest:

• Okhissa Lake, bass: A key ingredient in patterning winter bass is deep water immediately adjacent to shallow areas. Nowhere in Mississippi is that more readily available than Okhissa Lake, the U.S. Forest Service fishing hole near Bude. In December, try a drop-shot worm or a shaky-head worm. Target the creek channel on the upper end of the lake where the channel comes nearest to the shoreline, and the drop-offs in the back ends of the coves.

• Columbus Lake, catfish: In a Mississippi Sportsman feature two winters ago, writer Phillip Gentry described the hot catfish action that can be found on this part of the Tenn-Tom Waterway. Tight-lining deep holes with fresh cut bait can produce plentiful numbers of eating-sized channel cats and big blues, and whole live bait could put a big flathead tabby cat in the boat. Log onto to read more about how to

• Tippah County Lake, bream: Huh? Bluegill or redear in the winter months? Yep, that’s right, and this MDWFP state lake near Ripley is the place to try them, believe it or not. Most fishermen like to fish in water 10 to 12 feet deep on the bottom, on tight lines, with big wads of night crawlers. Hold onto or at least secure your poles, because this lake produced the state-record redear (aka chinquapin) at 3.33 pounds, and it also has big bluegill. Who knows: With night crawlers, a feisty catfish might come calling.

• Lake Washington, crappie and catfish: Recognized as one of the best crappie lakes in the country by many organizations — it has often ranked in the Top 10, each usually loaded with Mississippi locations — this old oxbow lake is amazing for its size. About 7 miles in length, it seems so fertile where crappie is concerned, and they always bite. Winter is just as good as spring, which is as good as summer, which is as good as fall. Drift trolling in water at least 15 feet deep is important in winter, but that doesn’t always mean fishing deep. Locals use electronics to discover the depth at which the most crappie suspend, and then they tip jigs with minnows and slowly drift the area.

Don’t forget catfish, either. This is one lake where limb lines, also known as yo-yos, work wonders. A couple of hours on a pleasant winter day using prepared bait on yo-yos can provide a catfish dinner worthy of a Christmas gathering.

• Coastal rivers, mixed bag: Our final gift to you is this tip: Fishing the Biloxi/Tchoutacabouffa River system or bay, or the Pascagoula/Escatawpa River system and bay is a December delight. This is the time of the year when speckled trout, redfish, black drum and flounder make a seasonal migration run up the coastal rivers, and they can be readily caught in the same waters that can produce largemouth and striped bass and even shellcracker bream, depending on which side of the boat one chooses to cast. That is a joy to behold.

About Bobby Cleveland 1342 Articles
Bobby Cleveland has covered sports in Mississippi for over 40 years. A native of Hattiesburg and graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Cleveland lives on Ross Barnett Reservoir near Jackson with his wife Pam.