5 hot spots for July fishing

Tripletails are a great summer target around crab-pot buoys and marker buoys in Mississippi Sound.
Tripletails are a great summer target around crab-pot buoys and marker buoys in Mississippi Sound.

Too hot to fish?

Oh, we beg to differ, except in cases when the fish aren’t biting or when you forget the water and the sunscreen.

When the fish are biting, you aren’t turning bright red, and there’s a cool drink at hand, anglers don’t feel the heat. These five hot spots usually provide great action in July so give them a try.

Barnett Reservoir: Striped bass/crappie

Since trolling with crankbaits is a popular method for catching both striped bass and crappie relating to contour changes, this is a great way to beat the heat and catch fish. Add a Bimini top like those common on pontoon boats,and it’s hard to beat what will likely be a mixed bag of fish in the cooler.

Bandit 200 and 300 series crankbaits will work, using the 300s on the deep side of the drops and the 200s on the break line. Once a school of stripers is found, it’s easy to mark it with a buoy and stop and work it over with crankbaits. When fish 7 pounds and up are biting on every cast, you will forget the heat. Target a little deeper on similar ledges and you’ll likely find crappie.

Mississippi River: Jugging for catfish

When — and if — the river falls to its normal summer level, that’s when the legion of juggers hit the river in search of catfish. Two men can legally fish 50 jugs between them, and in the Mississippi River they will stay busy chasing down hooked fish.

The pattern of choice is setting up drifts that will carry the array of jugs across the shallow flats with cover on the inside bends of the river. Fish can range from the perfect eating catfish that are between 1 and 2 pounds, all the way up to 100 pounds. No bait beats cut skipjack shad, which can be caught in running water in big numbers on ultralight spinning gear and small jigs.

Mississippi Sound: Tripletail

Catching tripletails in the Gulf of Mexico is just plain ol’ cool. Since it’s done on the fly, at the fastest speed that allows for spotting these fish around floating debris or markers, there’s always a cooling breeze. After spotting one, captains usually pull a few hundred yards away before idling back toward the fish. Tripletails migrate into the shallows in the summer and like to use any surface cover, like crab-pot buoys, to hide and ambush shrimp and other forage fish. Pitching a live shrimp fished about a foot under a popping cork without a weight usually gets a strike.

Pickwick Lake: Black bass

The hotter the weather, the better the fishing on this TVA lake, as water pulled through the dam to produce electricity for air conditioning sets up a current that sets up bass to feed.

All three types of black bass native to the Tennessee River system can be caught in big numbers on the Mississippi waters of Pickwick Lake. Largemouth bass will relate to any vegetation you can find, and the hydrilla and other grasses vary in their concentrations year to year. Smallmouth bass begin to stack up on the deep ends of gravel shoals and, will join largemouths and spotted bass on shallow humps — 15 feet surrounded by 25 feet or more — in the open lake near the river channel. Spotted bass also school under boat docks in bigger marinas with deep water.

Sardis, Grenada: Crappie

The summer pattern will be in place by July 4, which means all the crappie in these two large, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood-control reservoirs in north Mississippi will move out on the deep ends of the main-lake points where they are in perfect position for trolling with crankbaits. A 3-pounder is possible, especially at Grenada.

Bobby Cleveland
About Bobby Cleveland 1181 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.