January may be one of the coldest months, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some red-hot fishing action. These are our picks of five hot spots you should consider visiting.
Inshore/nearshore: Mississippi Gulf Coast
The action in the major coastal rivers and bays is incredible, and on days when the weather allows, the nearshore marshes can be just as productive. The bridges along US 90 in Bay St. Louis, Ocean Springs/Biloxi and Pascagoula are all outstanding. They offer a mixed bag of redfish, black drum and sheepshead that use the pilings as ambush points for bait moving in and out with the tides. Dead shrimp on a moving tide can fill an ice chest in a few hours.
Black crappie: Eagle Lake
Early indications are that the flood of 2019, which had this old oxbow out of its banks for about nine months, did not hurt the fishing, at least not for one of its best patterns: black crappie around piers on the Mississippi side of the lake. The “specks” — as locals call black crappie — began hitting in early December. The colder the day, the better, but don’t think you have to fish deep to catch black crappie. While some fishermen prefer to troll deep for white crappie, many know that the specks will be suspended only 3 to 4 feet deep under the piers.
Catfish: Barnett Reservoir
The only time of the year when the 33,000-acre lake is productive for bank fishermen is when chilling, winter weather brings catfish into the shallows to feed of shad dying by the millions due to exposure. They die and fall to the bottom of the lake, and catfish move in to feed. Along the Natchez Trace, Red Dot Road and Highway 43 offer access to bank fisherman.
Bass: Lake Bill Waller
This MDWFP lake near Columbia remains one of Mississippi’s premier bass lakes due to its winter production. The big bass are entering their prespawn stage in January, and they start staging off the first drop from the many shallow spawning areas. They can be targeted there all month. On cold days, fish a jig and trailer on the drop, and on warm days, move up on top of the drop and don’t be afraid to use a quick bait like a lipless crankbait.
Bream: Tippah County Lake
Yes, you read that right. This small MDWFP lake near Ripley in extreme north-central Mississippi is one lake where anglers can whack some panfish in the winter, and they can do it from the bank. You will need casting equipment — long rods with spinning gear — to put worms on the bottom in 8 to 10 feet of water. The lake’s big redear and big bluegill will not disappoint. Don’t expect to load a cooler, but you can take home a big mess of fish to fry.