Think this month is all about hunting in Mississippi? No way. Try any of these five suggested fishing trips to start your fall fishing excursions.
Largemouth bass, Trace State Park
The lake at this state park outside Pontotoc — a short drive west from Tupelo — recently reopened to fishing after a three-year renovation. Already, the popular fishing hole has shown a return to its status as one of the state’s best spots. Larry Pugh, fisheries director for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, said the lake’s unique layout allowed it to remain partially filled, keeping a large percentage of its original bass population, which was left alone for 3 years. Once the lake was refilled and restocked, it started producing outstanding fishing right off the bat, especially bass. It’s mostly a catch-and-release spot right now, since all bass between 16 and 22 inches must be immediately released without exception. To promote harvest of younger fish with some protection of bigger fish, the daily limit is 10; only one of those can exceed 22 inches.
Catfish, Tenn-Tom Waterway
When water and — thankfully — air temperatures begin falling, catfish on the Tenn-Tom become extremely active. From the north end of the Tenn-Tom to the Alabama border and beyond, this river system is the place to be. The deeper holes on outside bends are the best places to find trophy blues and flatheads, but you can fish just about anywhere to find keeper channels and blues — 1 to 5 pounds — to fill an ice chest or two. Fish around until you get a bite,then soak that area with baits. Chances are good you’ll stay busy. If you don’t, move until you get another bite and sooner or later, you’ll hit a sweet spot.
Bass on topwater, Barnett Reservoir
The shad spent all of September beginning their annual migration to shallow water, and on Barnett Reservoir, that means vegetation. Even though the flood in February pushed a lot of vegetation out, and the managing agency has aggressively attacked a rash of the invasive alligator grass, enough lily pads exist that the shad can locate. The bass will follow, and it’s a great time to throw plastic frogs and buzzbaits.
Bass, Delta oxbows
Mississippi is blessed with outstanding natural oxbow lakes on its entire western border along the Mississippi River. Some are far inland from the river, like Wolf, Bee and Atchafalaya lakes, but many more are close to the river, like Eagle, Chotard and Albermarle north of Vicksburg and Washington, Lee, Ferguson and Whittington around Greenville. As the water cools, grab some crankbaits and hit the steeper banks, or grab some spinnerbaits or swimbaits and move up around the shallow timber. Find a spring along a bank on a cool October morning, and small plastics can produce a lot of action.
Mixed bag, Gulf Coast
If you’re extremely lucky, it might be a flounder. It’s more likely to be a redfish or its first cousin, a black drum. It’s just as likely to be a speckled trout, or its first cousin, a white trout. There’s even a good chance it will be one of those odd-looking but very tasty sheepshead. One thing’s for sure: if you put a bait in the water along the Gulf Coast or in the coastal rivers, there’s a pretty good bet you’re going to get a bite. If you can find live shrimp, use them. If you can’t get live bait but know where the bottom-feeders like redfish and black drum, flounder and sheepshead are holding, get frozen (dead) shrimp. Use plastics if you find trout. The key to all of them is moving water. Watch your tide charts.
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