Ranking Mississippi’s top crappie lakes

The Goshen South boat ramp opened March 18, in plenty of time for Mississippi fishermen to find it, launch their boats and target Ross Barnett’s slabs. (Photo by Brian Cope)

Outsiders like “Wired2Fish,” “In-Fishermen” and other online sites usually include three or four Mississippi lakes in their Top-10s and most all list Grenada Lake as the No. 1 destination in the nation for crappie fishermen.

But how do Mississippi crappie anglers feel about it? Truth be told, you can ask five people and get five different answers, some totally different.

For instance, the listings of Jeff Woods of Oxford are heavily skewed toward north Mississippi: 1. Grenada Lake, 2. Sardis Lake, 3. Pickwick Lake, 4. Arkabutla Lake, 5. Enid Lake.

When you ask Billy Brown of Jackson, his listings are, quite naturally, more centrally located: 1. Barnett Reservoir, 2. Eagle Lake, 3. Grenada Lake, 4. Lake Washington, 5. Lake Lincoln (State Park).

So, what about someone from south Mississippi, like George Thomas of Hattiesburg? Surprisingly, Thomas’ s list is all over the place: 1. Grenada Lake, 2. Barnett Reservoir, 3. Flynt Creek Water Park, 4. Eagle Lake, 5. Okatibbee Lake.

Heading to the Delta, Ray Wilson of Vicksburg loves the river lakes: 1. Eagle Lake, 2. Lake Washington, 3. Chotard/Albermarle, 4. Wolf Lake, 5. Grenada Lake.

What about an outdoor writer who has fished just about every puddle of water in Mississippi for over 50 years? I have it as:

No. 1. Grenada Lake

I’m no fool. This is the best lake in the world for chasing the elusive 3-pounder. Anytime a crappie smacks a jig here, my heart skips a beat anticipating what might be a fish of a lifetime.

No. 2. Barnett Reservoir

You won’t find many 3-pounders here, but what you will find is a healthy population of all age classes and an abundance of “keepers”  from 12 ounces up to 21/2 pounds.

No. 3. Lake Washington

In addition to producing a few trophy fish every year, this old oxbow near Glen Allen is small enough to learn in a few trips and, oddly enough, has different patterns than you won’t find anywhere else. Example: On one 100-degree day in July, we caught the limit of crappie spider-rig trolling with jigs and minnows between 3 and 5 feet deep.

No. 4. Eagle Lake

I love this old oxbow of the Mississippi River for many reasons, including its natural beauty. But what I really love about it are the fat slabs you can catch on a variety of patterns throughout the year. My favorite is the cold of winter when the black crappie gang up under the piers on the outside bends (Mississippi side) of the lake.

No. 5. Pickwick Lake

It is best known for its catfish and bass, but this magnificent TVA lake on the Tennessee River is an absolute monster for crappie. My first experience with Pickwick crappie was a bass-fishing trip one April, bottom-bouncing jig heads with grubs off a drop from 10 feet down to 20 feet. We were fishing the 20-foot side. Didn’t catch a targeted smallmouth, but it didn’t matter. We limited out on 2- to 2½-pound crappie in one spot in two hours.

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Bobby Cleveland
About Bobby Cleveland 1337 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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