Winter Crappie – Hot Fishing on Cold Days
1/30/2019 9:05:05 AM

Winter is often an overlooked season to fish for crappie. Between Mississippi’s nationally recognized flood control reservoirs (Grenada, Enid, Sardis, Arkabutla), Ross Barnett Reservoir, and Pickwick and Bay Springs lakes, there are plenty of options for great winter crappie fishing.

Mississippi’s northern reservoirs, also known as the “Arc of Slabs,” are known to produce monster crappie. Water levels are typically at their lowest levels during winter, concentrating fish, making them easier to find. Crappie will relate to the main river channels in these lakes, usually along the channel ledge. You can often locate fish by following other crappie anglers. Once located, slow troll minnows or minnow/jig combinations through the area.

Ross Barnett Reservoir surprised anglers in 2018 with the number of 2 and 3-pound slabs that were caught. These fish will relate to the old river channel and flooded oxbow lakes. You can also find fish in some well-known winter “hot spots”. Just below the highway 43 bridge is an area known by locals as the “Welfare Hole.” As winter progresses, move a mile downstream and fish the “S-curve”, an area where the old river channel forms a large “S.”

Pickwick and Bay Springs lakes are excellent destinations for winter crappie if you are not intimated by fishing deep water. Winter finds crappie in these lakes relating to points, channels, and man-made brush piles. Finding shad in any of these areas is key, with Yellow Creek and Bear Creek embayments good places at Pickwick to start looking. Riddle Creek and McDougal Creek are favorites at Bay Springs. Most crappie anglers “pull” minnow rigs or jig/minnow combinations near creek channels and points. For anglers targeting brush-piles, anchor the boat and vertical fish jig/minnow combinations just above the brush.

For bank anglers looking to do some winter crappie fishing, the spillways of the four flood control reservoirs and Ross Barnett can provide some of the best action of the year. Water level and water discharge will affect your success. Under “normal” water levels and discharge, anglers fish along the riprap. When water levels and discharge are high, anglers find crappie out of the heavy currents. Crappie anglers use small jigs or minnows with good success. One or two jigs hung under a float and “danced” by twitching the end of the rod causing the float to bounce is a popular technique. Regulations are in place at these spillways that limit anglers to two single hooks no larger than a #2. For specific information on spillway rules and regulations, visit

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