Grab the sunscreen and let’s hit some July hot spots. These possibilities top the list of can’t-miss fishing holes this month.
Chotard and Albemarle Lakes, black and white bass
This connected pair of oxbow lakes can be fun in the summer, with the bonus of having lots of shade for a cooling break. In July, both produce largemouth bass and white bass, with both species often seen blasting shad on the surface. Try Chotard for white bass on the ends of boat ramps and other gravel areas, while Albemarle is the better choice for largemouth action. Both will hit a variety of topwater baits while feeding on the surface. When they go down, throw plastics and crankbaits for largemouths and try a tail-spinner for the whites.
Sardis and Grenada Lakes, crappie
While it’s the spawn and prespawn periods that make these two large U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood-control reservoirs in north Mississippi among the highest-ranked crappie lakes in the world, it’s the consistent summer trolling that keeps anglers coming back. Crappie will move out on the deep ends of the main-lake points where they are in perfect position for trolling with crankbaits. A bonus: trolling keeps the air moving.
Mississippi Sound, tripletail
Tripletail, aka black fish, is arguably the best-tasting fish in the Gulf of Mexico, but there’s no doubt they are quite literally the coolest fish to chase. You can catch them basically by running at high speed, watching for them floating around debris, pilings and crab pots. Tripletails migrate into the shallows in the summer and like to use any surface cover — crab pot buoys for example — to hide and ambush shrimp and other forage fish. Pitching a live shrimp fished about a foot under a popping cork does the trick.
Barnett Reservoir, striped bass/crappie
Staying with that trend of creating breezes to stay cool, Barnett Reservoir offers trolling with crankbaits for both striped bass and crappie relating to contour changes. Bandit 200 and 300 crankbaits will work on both, using the 300s on the deep side of the drops and the 200s on the break line. The only time you will want to stop is when a school of stripers starts busting shad on top. Catching 7-, 8- and 9-pounders on every cast makes it easy to forget the heat.
Mississippi River, jugging for catfish
Here’s another opportunity to stay cool. Once the river falls to normal summer levels, juggers hit the water and usually leave with more catfish than they really wanted to clean. Two men can legally fish 50 jugs, and they will stay busy chasing down the hooked fish. No bait beats cut skipjack shad, which can be caught in running water in big numbers on ultra-light spinning gear and small jigs, which is also fun.
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