Finding hot action during Mississippi’s dog days

There’s plenty to do if you look in the right places

August is usually the hottest month for Mississippi outdoorsmen, but there are still a lot of opportunities to catch fish and harvest game if you know how to do it and where to go. While the bite usually slows down, there are a few hotspots like Pickwick Lake in Northeast Mississippi.


Roger Stegall has been guiding on Pickwick for 35 years, and he knows more than a few things about catching fish during August.

“You can still catch fish on ledges, but the bass are tending to move shallower as minnows and shad start going back into the pockets and shallow-water grass beds,” Stegall said. “The bass will be where the baitfish are most of the time, and if you’re fishing the ledges or offshore structure, then Carolina rigs and Texas-rigged plastics fished slow are good. If the bass are up chasing shad, then I like to use a shad-colored War Pig or a chrome/blue back lipless crankbait. Small poppers are also good worked around grass where the bass are feeding on bait.”

Stegall points to early morning as the best time to catch bass during the dog days, though he used to do quite a bit of night-fishing. These days, he prefers not fishing with clients after dark, but there are some who are successful.

Bass fishing after dark

A cooler alternative to fishing during the heat of the day is fishing at night, and a lot of younger anglers enjoy that because they can fish in the cooler night air after a hot day at work. A lot of bass are caught in the same areas as they are during the day, but the fish feed more actively after the sun goes down.

If you’re willing to try something different, there are other fish that are active and fun to catch as well.

Trolling for crappie

Anglers are also catching crappie in Yellow Creek and Bear Creek while trolling bright-colored crankbaits about 10 feet deep on 20-foot flats for the suspended perch. Trolling crankbaits is a fun way to beat the heat and catch slab crappie without working up a sweat. Many anglers will put up big fishing umbrellas and stay out of the direct sun while sipping cool drinks and catching big white perch. It’s not for everybody, but it’s a killer technique in hot weather.

Spillway fishing

When all else fails during hot weather, spillways provide excellent fishing opportunities when reservoir managers are generating current or letting water out of the main lake. Shad and other baitfish flow through, and the stripers, hybrids, bass and even catfish have feeding frenzies. You may even catch a few sauger below Pickwick Dam.

Roger Stegall, a guide on Pickwick Lake and Mississippi Outdoors Hall of Fame Member, displays a nice bass he caught.

During the summer, early mornings and late afternoons are also good. If you catch it just right after a fresh discharge, the action can be hot. Many anglers use jigs, spoons and related lures when searching for stripers, bass and hybrids with good success, but live bait is usually very productive during hot weather. Night-time is a great time to catch catfish, and many die-hard anglers will catch fish throughout the night in the current and call it a day about daybreak with a cooler of fish.

More to do

In the August issue of Mississippi Sportsman magazine, you can also read about some other opportunities from our writers.

The dog days of summer might not seem like the best time to catch a big largemouth, but certain tactics and situations can spawn some big-fish bites. Read what you need to know to catch those lunkers in my feature “Some (bass) like it hot!’”

Andy Douglas has a timely feature about Mississippi’s wild-hog infestation, “Time to go ‘whole hog.”’ Landowners, hunting camps and farmers are all losing the battle with wild hogs. Two veterans of the struggle share their victories in hopes of spreading the word. If you’re having a problem with wild hogs, you’ll want to read this story.

If you think crappie fishing is over until the weather cools down, think again, as John Godwin shares with Phillip Gentry his knowledge and prowess at finding and catching hot-weather crappie by long-lining. This well-known outdoors personality knows his stuff.

In his feature “Oasis for fish — or fishermen?” John N. Felsher explains how Mississippi’s artificial reef program has created dozens of fish-attracting structures along its Gulf coast. Read about how guides approach them and what they catch around these hot-weather, saltwater hotspots.

Veteran deer hunter Chris Holmes brings us another timely article about deer camps in “Home away from home.” Holmes reminds us that an off-the-grid deer camp doesn’t have to be uncomfortable and permanent. He’ll cover a few ideas for adding almost all the comforts of home for a relatively light hit to the wallet.

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About Michael O. Giles 312 Articles
Mike Giles of Meridian has been hunting and fishing Mississippi since 1965. He is an award-winning wildlife photographer, writer, seminar speaker and guide.

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