Fishing & Boating

Fishing Report

Sardis Lake - 3/20/2018 3:03:20 PM

Water level 270.37, stable, 25.6 ft over rule curve Tuesday. The water level is supposed to rise from 241 ft March 1 to summer pool (260 ft) by May 1. Expect rapid water level rises and drawdowns as rain events happen and the Corps tries to achieve and maintain rule curve. For water level information, call (662)563-4531 or check at for a table or for a graph or for both. Be sure to check the date on the table as it is not always updated daily.

The water is clearing and stabilizing (about 43,000 acres at this level). Most folks have been crappie fishing on the upper end with bright-colored (chartreuse, orange, pink, etc.) jigs and/or minnows in the trees and field edges in 2 - 3 ft of water either by boat or wading. A cold front this week may back fish out about 5 ft deep, but it should warm back up by the weekend. Although some limits have been caught, average is about 7 keepers; expect a lot of short crappie. The hottest bite right now has been for White Bass in the river near the Hwy 7 bridge on jigs or small crankbaits. Some folks have been catching, literally, 5 gallon buckets full of fish. They should be running in some of the larger creeks, too. There are no size on number limits on White Bass. No reports on anything else, although Largemouth Bass should be in the shallows feeding up before the spawn; spinnerbaits or buzzbaits should draw strikes and cover a lot of water.

The spillway had 2 gates open 2.0 ft each (1200 cfs) Tuesday. The Corps will be trying to let out some water as soon as downstream flooding subsides; the Mississippi River may drop 10 ft by Sunday and the gates opened up accordingly. Some White Bass have been caught in the spillway and folks trolling in the Lower Lake have been landing some smaller crappie; no reports of bait or depth on either. The number of boats fishing the Lower Lake dropped off when the gates were opened. Check out the new COE fishing pier on the north side of the spillway near the end of the rip-rap.

All fish captured and kept with dip or landing nets, cast nets, boat mounted scoops, wire baskets, minnow seines, and minnow traps in the spillway areas bordered by rip rap must be immediately placed on ice or in a dry container. Game fish caught with these gears must be released. This regulation was enacted to reduce the potential of transferring harmful Asian carps to the reservoir or other waters.

MDWFP fall 2017 electrofishing found good spawns of most fishes due to abundant flooded vegetation. Most Gizzard Shad were about 3 inches, while most Threadfin Shad were about 2 inches. Many of the 2017 spawned shad appeared to be Threadfin X Gizzard hybrids, possibly because of low water and limited spawning habitat. Largemouth Bass were 3 – 21 inches with peaks at 8 and 13 inches, with a good proportion over 15 inches. Blue Catfish ("white river cats or "white humpbacks") were the most abundant catfish; they peaked near 21 inches (about 4 lb), but ranged from 5 – 35 inches. With the unseasonably warm fall, crappie were holding deeper than electrofishing could effectively sample. Most crappie were from the 2017 - 2014 year classes (3 - 14 inches). White Crappie peaked at 10 inches (2016 fish).

The daily creel limit for crappie is 15 per person. Crappie must be over 12 inches. Anglers may use no more than 4 poles per person and no more than 2 hooks or lures per pole. There is a 40 crappie per boat limit for boats with 3 or more anglers. The 12-inch length limit does not apply to the reservoir spillway, but the spillway, including Sardis Lower Lake, has a 15 crappie creel limit.

Limits on Black Bass (Largemouth and Spotted Bass) are statewide limits: no size limit, 10 fish per person daily.

Contact the COE office (662) 563-4531 for accessible ramps at current water levels.

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