Dogwoods, crappie are in vogue

(Photo by Dan Kibler)

April in Mississippi brings out the best in our state’s outdoors

April brings us dogwood blooms, which, if old adages are to be believed, means crappie are spawning.

Popular guide Roger Gant of Corinth always believed the two coincided, and if ever there was an expert on the subject, trust us, Gant would be it. He is the man that Bill Dance called the greatest fishing guide in the world.

“People always ask me, ‘When do crappie spawn?’,” Gant said one April morning after pulling in a rather fat, egg-laden sow crappie from Bay Springs Lake on the Tenn-Tom Waterway. “I always tell them that if they see those white dogwoods blooming in the woods, then it’s happening — they’re spawning.”

Of course, the two spring phenomena are unrelated scientifically, only coincidentally. Yet blooming dogwoods and spawning crappie are two treasures that make April so sublime in Mississippi.

Nowhere else in the world can match the Magnolia State when it comes to crappie fishing. Hands down, it is the place to be when the male crappie turn black, make beds and the females move in to lay eggs. Whether you’re after quantity or quality — or a mix of both — Mississippi is the king of crappie.

Every list of top crappie hot spots in the country will be heavy with Mississippi waters. Grenada Lake and its 3-pounders will top every single one, and it will likely be joined in the top five by Lake Washington and Sardis Lake. You will probably find Enid Lake, Arkabutla Lake and Barnett Reservoir somewhere on the roster, and even the Tenn-Tom Waterway is included on many.

Lesser-knows gems

Here’s a secret, but only if you live outside Mississippi — we already know it. There are many more lakes here that are just as good, if not better.

Those “hot spot lists” are often compiled by outdoor writers who live outside the state’s borders, and those journalists represent national publications or websites that demand a broad spectrum of locations around the country to boost either ad sales or readership.

A stringer of big crappie just screams “Mississippi” to knowledgable fishermen across the Southeast. (Photo by Dan Kibler)

That’s why Eagle Lake or Lake Whittington or Tunica Cutoff or Okatibbee Lake or Lake Mary or Lake Lincoln or several others in Mississippi are not mentioned, yet will be full of boats yanking out crappie after crappie every April.

While Mississippi may rank last or near the bottom in a lot of societal issues, it takes a backseat to nobody when it comes to crappie.

And, remember, the dogwoods will bloom here in April.

Rabbit Rogers, a Barnett Reservoir crappie specialist who gets the same question that Gant did about spawning timing, said we can count on it at tax time.

“What I tell everybody is that if there is one day that, year-in and year-out, I’d bet on to hit the peak of the spawn, it would be April 15,” Rogers said. “You can count on it. April 15 may not be the peak day, but it will be so close that you can bank on it.”

Bobby Cleveland
About Bobby Cleveland 1264 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.

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