While many sportsmen have put up their rods and reels and taken out their rifles, bows and shotguns for hunting season, diehard Mississippi anglers are heading to the waters for some fantastic fall fishing. Here are a few of Mississippi’s fall hotspots.
Pickwick Lake bass
Whether you are targeting largemouths or smallmouths, Pickwick Lake is the closest thing to a sure bet when it comes to catching bass in October. While the lake receives heavy fishing pressure during peak months, it remains one of the best fisheries in Mississippi and the Southeast. Many anglers, including Justin Giles, of Clinton, head to the lake in October, and the good fishing just keeps bringing them back.
Last October, Giles caught Pickwick smallmouth bass along rock walls and ledges adjacent to rock walls during a mid-October fishing trip.
“We caught smallmouths on topwater baits like Whopper Ploppers off shallow ledges adjacent to rock walls early, then caught some on swimbaits as they moved deeper on the ledges as the morning progressed,” Giles said. “We also caught largemouth on shaky heads, crankbaits and worms in the Yellow Creek area.”
If the weather is stable, look for fantastic fall fishing at Pickwick again.
Mississippi River catfish
As the water temperature falls, catfish will become active, and anglers can catch blue cats, channel cats and big flatheads in a variety of places. Anglers catch the big flatheads from the banks up and down the river, and some at night from select locations they’ve learned by trial and error over the years.
Guide Bob Crosby, of Madison likes to fish the river from Port Gibson to north of Vicksburg; he targets monster blue cats and occasionally catches big flatheads as a bonus. Crosby catches them in a variety of spots in different ways.
“We’ll catch them bumping bottom along the main river on ledges adjacent to drop-offs,” Crosby said. “We also catch a lot along the wing dams up and down the river where the water rushes around the ends of the dams and creates large eddies. The big blue cats and flatheads will lay in the deep water just off the eddies and feed heavily when bait gets swept through.”
On an average day, anglers can expect to catch 12 to 15 blue cats in the 15- to 20-pound range and occasionally a big blue in the 30- to 40-pound range. It’s not uncommon for Crosby’s clients to hook 50- to 70-pound catfish — and even catch a few.
Okatibbee Lake crappie
Okatibbee Lake usually has an annual water drawdown that pulls the crappie out of the shallows and concentrates them in the open water; they congregate along ditches and creek runs as the temperature falls. Many crappie are caught along stumps and brush tops adjacent to creeks, and anglers can load the boat by fishing jigs or minnows around structure.
Lure designer and angler Scott Vance likes to catch crappie by trolling along creek channels, concentrating on water in the 9- to 11-foot range. Vance uses jigs and double-minnow rigs, depending upon what the fish like that day. He also employs a spider-rig system with different rods trolling lures set at different depths so he can determine what depth the fish are holding or feeding. Many times, crappie will come up to feed, but if you’re working below them, you won’t get bit.
Many of the old-timers who fished the lake in bygone days sunk brush and treetops in a variety of areas off drops and ledges, and they fished those same spots in 9- to 11-foot depths with great consistency. They would pull up to a submerged top and catch several big crappie on jigs or minnows and move when the action slowed. Many times, you might limit out on one top or catch several big crappie on each brush pile and finish your limit by hitting multiple tops.
River Spotted bass
If you are looking for explosive fall action, look no further than your nearest shallow creek, stream or secluded river. Anglers in east-central Mississippi head to the Chickasawhay and Chunky rivers each fall in search of the explosive spotted bass and an occasional largemouth.
By mid- to late-October- the bass are usually in a feeding frenzy and will strike topwater lures almost any time of the day. If you’re fishing on the Chunky River, fish above and below the shoals with small buzzbaits, Tiny Torpedos, Devil’s Horses or small minnow-style crankbaits. Simply work the areas above and below the shoals and then move on to the next shoal’s area that you can find.
Other hotspots are steep banks with overhanging trees, creek mouths that formed were smaller tributaries pour into the rivers and any type of stump, tree or obstruction that forces a break in the current.
Fish small spinnerbaits and jigs with crawfish trailers in the current and hang on!
If the water has cooled and the color is good, spotted bass will chase shad and baitfish at random almost anywhere in the rivers.
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