Destination: Northwest Mississippi
By Richard Simms
Northwest Mississippi is the gateway to the blues, but it’s also the gateway to the best crappie fishing in the nation. The Northwest Mississippi reservoirs produce black and white crappie, Two-pound-plus crappie are not terribly unusual.
Ask 100 crappie fishermen across the country to name the Top 5 best crappie lakes in the nation (as has often been done in many surveys) and I will bet large amounts of money that either Sardis or Granada, or both, will be included in those Top 5. And it is likely they would end up as Number One and Number Two.
But in Northwest Mississippi, besides Sardis and Grenada you’ll find Arkabutla, Enid and Lake Washington. Move a little south and you’ll find the famous Ross Barnett Reservoir. Odds are avid crappie anglers have heard of them all, or at least some. On most lakes in the country a 2-pound-plus crappie is something to write home about. In Northwest Mississippi they can sometimes be routine.
“If the angler has the proper equipment, depth finders and lake map chips, it’s possible to catch fish without a guide.” ~ Bernard Williams, Magnolia Crappie Club
WHY IS IT SO GOOD?
So, what makes Northwest Mississippi water such an amazing crappie producer?
Larry Pugh, the Fisheries Bureau Director of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) said, “It is all about good dirt [fertile soil]. These lakes are very productive. Also, those lakes were built for flood control, which means water levels fluctuate annually. A fall/winter drawdown concentrates forage and increases predation, which results in increased growth.”
Mina Thorgeson with the Ridgeland, Miss. Tourism Commission lives almost on the shore Ross Barnett. Thorgeson said, “The growing season is all year long. It stays warm enough to allow the baitfish to survive the winter. And the big fish are protected with 12-inch size limits and 15-crappie-per-day creel limit. There’s good spawning areas and lots of grassy areas to protect the fry after they hatch.”