With summer temperatures reaching well into October — two of the hottest weekends were actually in the fall, with heat indexes exceeding 100 in both late September and early October — Mississippi anglers are just as excited about November’s arrival as are hunters.
“Thought I was going to die, it was so hot,” said Dan Gore of Madison. “Maybe it’s that I’m older now, but this summer seemed like one of the hottest and the driest I’ve ever suffered. There were times in September and even October when I had to quit, on the water, and seek air-conditioned relief.
“That ain’t right, I’m telling you. It just ain’t right.”
The good news, Gore said, was that he rarely saw boats on any of his favorite waters late in the summer into early fall, meaning fish weren’t pressured.
“Apparently, I wasn’t the only one scared of the heat,” he said. “I didn’t see a lot of boats in the parking lots at Barnett Reservoir. I didn’t see many on my subdivision lake. When I went fishing on the coast at Cat Island, we practically had the whole south shore of the island to ourselves. I couldn’t believe it.”
Reds, trout, sheepshead and more, Gulf Coast
November is a peak fishing time in Mississippi, with fish naturally entering a period of heavy feeding in advance of winter and the spring spawning season. Bass and crappie go crazy in freshwater, while many saltwater species come further into harm’s way by coming nearer to the shore.
“Redfish, speckled trout, (black) drum, sheepshead, even flounder, they all move up and either get shallow in the outer marsh areas or move up into the bays and the mouths of coastal rivers,” said Ron Guidry of Bay St. Louis. “We save on gas money because we aren’t traveling far to reach the fish. Right here in Bay St. Louis, all we have to do to fill an ice chest with reds, black drum and sheepshead is run to the Highway 90 bridge pilings.
“If you’re desire is to tangle with bigger fish over taking fish home to eat, all you have to do is run the barrier islands or the Biloxi Marsh and look for the schools of bull reds and jack crevalle. They’re out there thick in November, and boy, you can burn some line with them.”
That coastal opportunity — especially the Highway 90 bridges in Bay St. Louis, Biloxi/Ocean Springs and Pascagoula River — tops our list of top 5 hot spots for November in Mississippi. The rest:
Crappie, Barnett Reservoir
The reservoir has been drawn down nearly 2 feet this entire year, which should lead to a lot of fat and sassy fish to be caught on the 33,000-acre lake near Jackson. Crappie tend of hang close to cover, but instead of being between 10 and 13 feet deep, they can be found as shallow as 6 to 8 feet on timber in the old lake beds. A jig tipped with a small minnow will get you the bites once you find the fish.
Catfish, Tenn-Tom Waterway
You can enjoy both quantity and quality on the different pools of this river system when catfishing in November. Big blues can be found feeding heavily in the deeper, outside bends of the old river channels, while schools of “eater” channel cats just right for taking home to the cleaning shed can be found on sand bars in more moderate depths with current.
Bass, crappie in oxbows
The many oxbows off the Mississippi River in the Delta, from Vicksburg north to Memphis, are an outstanding place to look for big largemouth and crappie in November. Water levels remain stable, and the water fairly clear. Trolling deep, open water for crappie peaks at the connected oxbows of Chotard and Albermarle north of Vicksburg. Some of the inland oxbows in the South Delta might be difficult this year after having been impacted by backwater flooding, but lakes like Wolf, Washington and Bee are worth a check. Bass fishermen love Lake Ferguson at Greenville, where you can find a whole new appreciation for the practice of “deep cranking” for largemouth. Lake Whittington is another hot oxbow for bass in November.
Bass fishing, Pickwick Lake
Think you have to wait for the spring spawn to catch a trophy smallmouth at Pickwick Lake? Think again; they can be had in November on crankbaits on rock bluff banks. Guide Roger Stegall proved that on a trip on the lake decades ago, casting a series of deep and mid-range crankbaits right against the sheer drops on the rocks.
“They don’t just bite, they unload on a crankbait,” he said.
Even if the smallies aren’t biting, there’s plenty of quality largemouth and spotted bass action, also shallow. Just look for shad in the back ends of coves and the fish will be nearby.