Take some time away from the deer stand this month, sample some Magnolia State gems
While Mississippi is loaded with great cold-water fishing holes, these five are proven hot spots that are worth a visit during December.
Barnett Reservoir crappie
This 33,000-acre lake is known for its winter production, although fewer fishermen fish the lake in winter than in other months due to deer season being open. The hottest action is the edge of the river channel near the Mississippi Hwy 43 bridge, both upstream and downstream. The concentrated current flowing under the bridge is a natural funnel that provides crappie a seemingly endless supply of shad on which to feed. Mixing a jig tipped with a minnow into the food supply is just too good for them to overlook. The edges of old lake beds on the Madison County side of the main lake are also very productive in the winter, since they provide deep cover.
US 90 bridge at Bay St. Louis
This 3.3-mile bridge was rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the previous structure in 2005. The new bridge is a fishing haven thanks to larger pilings along its length. Guides love it since it makes for easy trip, with a short ride and increased odds of filling the fish box quickly. Redfish, sheepshead and black drum (puppy drum) are the primary targets, and dead bait shrimp is all that is needed. Pitch the bait as close to a piling as possible and hold on. When you hit a hot piling, the bite is automatic and usually only takes a second or two.
Mississippi River catfish
The Big Muddy can produce a lot of action and lot of fish fries in the winter. Locate deep holes that don’t have a lot of current running through them and work around the holes with skipjack herring or shad baits. Keep your baits suspended off the bottom from a few inches to a foot or two, and use enough weight to keep them in place.
Trace State Park bass
When this lake reopened in the fall, it began producing big fish almost immediately because it still had some of its residual resident bass in the lake. Unlike many lakes in the MDWFP’s state lakes system, Trace’s unique design allowed the lake to be drawn down to repair the dam and water structure without emptying the lake completely. The bass and other species that remained were protected for more than two years, which lessened their instincts and fear of lures. Like other MDWFP lakes drawn down for repair, the lake was also restocked. As those fish grow and join the holdovers, the fishing will only get better. A shaky-head worm can be very effective.
Eagle Lake crappie
It’s hard to leave this old Mississippi River oxbow off the list, though it has given up some of its reputation to other waters like Grenada Lake and Lake Washington. But for more than a century, this lake has produced crappie consistently from one year to the next. A mixed population of white and black crappie is one of the reasons. Locals like to fish the open waters for suspended white crappie in the winter but fish the piers on the outside bend of the lake — the Mississippi side — to net the big black crappie. Either way, give it a shot and enjoy the day.
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