Winter fishing hot spots

The Mississippi Gulf Coast gets red hot every winter with great fishing for, among others, redfish.

Mississippi is blessed with great fishing opportunities on every page of the calendar, and some of it is saved for the last page: December.

Whether you fish in saltwater, prefer bass over crappie or vice versa, you can get a hook into some lips throughout the month. Here’s a look at some of the best action.

Largemouth bass

Fishermen mistakenly think the best winter fishing is limited to south Mississippi, and that’s based on some excellent action on lakes like Calling Panther near Crystal Springs, Okhissa near Bude, Jeff Davis near Prentiss, Bill Waller near Columbia and Perry at Beaumont. All are proven hot spots. But don’t overlook some good opportunities north of I-20. Even Pickwick Lake on the Tennessee border can produce in December. Another big lake to hit is Barnett Reservoir, which can produce fish throughout the winter. For lovers of smaller lakes, there’s Neshoba County Lake near Philadelphia, Monroe near Aberdeen, and Lamar Bruce at Saltillo. Unfortunately, two of north Mississippi’s best lakes are off limits this December — the ramp is temporarily closed at Tippah County Lake near Ripley and the lake at Trace State Park near Pontotoc is closed for renovation.

Crappie

Some of the best crappie action all year happens in the oxbow lakes along the Mississippi River in December and the rest of winter. Eagle, Chotard, Albermarle, Washington and Whittington lakes are all excellent waters for trolling for suspended, cold-water crappie. Inland, Sardis and Grenada lakes were producing some good fish in November, and if the water remains at decent, stable levels, it should continue through to the New Year. Barnett Reservoir is perhaps the most-consistent producer in the state.

Catfish

Winter months are outstanding for trophy blue catfish on the Mississippi River and the Tenn-Tom Waterway. Time spent learning how to find the cats in the deep holes and then putting the boat in the proper position to get a bait in their strike zones — and keep it there — is worth it.

Coastal waters

Several of the most-popular saltwater gamefish species migrate to nearshore or inshore waters along the Mississippi Gulf Coast during the late fall season. By December, redfish, speckled trout, puppy drum and sheepshead are all plentiful in the bays and on the man-made reefs along the beaches. Residents lucky enough to have homes on the back bays or attached bayous can catch all the trout they want at night under lights on their piers or docks. Redfish can be seen in packs roaming shorelines in search of food. Bridge pilings and other structure hold fish that use the cover to ambush baitfish pushed by the incoming or outgoing tides. The Biloxi Bay, Bay of St. Louis and the Pascagoula River are the three best places to be in December.

The exception: On Dec, 25, the place to be is with family and friends, perhaps enjoying a meal of fresh fish or perhaps venison backstraps.

Merry Christmas.

Bobby Cleveland
About Bobby Cleveland 1159 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.