It would be challenging to visit all the great lakes, ponds and rivers overflowing with numerous big crappie. There are so many, but let’s narrow it down to lakes and even a shorter list with lakes that are part of Mississippi Crappie Trail. Now, I only have six lakes to pick from and here is a look at my trip to Barnett Reservoir, Grenada Lake and Lake Washington leaving out Arkabutla Lake, Enid Lake and Sardis Lake due to time.
I’m starting with Barnett Reservoir or called Rez by the locals. Barnett has population of black and white crappie with around 33,000-acres managed by the Pearl River Valley Water Supply.
“You can fish Barnett Reservoir so many different ways. We got standing timber, creek arms, major river arm feeding it, we got brush piles; any kind of technique an angler would use to catch crappie you can do it here on Barnett Reservoir. We have a high population of crappie both white and black with the population being 50 percent of white or black crappie. Most of the lake averages 10- to 12-feet of water,” said Barnett Reservoir crappie fishing guide and Bobby Garland (Bobby Garland(R) – Brands) Pro Brad Chappell.
Renown for long line trolling in the spring Chappell likes to use Bobby Garland Stroll’R soft plastic lure in Grenada Gold, Keystone Candy and Vega. “Grenada Gold has caught thousands of crappie this year,” said Chappell. Chappell will change over to brush piles at time using LivScope and one poling in the summer months than switch over to long lining again in the fall and winter time.
“What I love about this lake is there is more to it than just a cabin around it. We have plenty of lodging for anglers and it’s a family friendly community so there are lots of things a family can do when not out on Barnett Reservior fishing. We have retail outlets inside and outside along with parks, biking and walking trails. Plus so many different places to eat from family style to just places where you and your buddies can go,” said Jana Dear Director of Sales and Event Partnerships (www.visitridgeland.com).
“Barnett also has several excellent restaurants right on the lake like Pelican Cove Grill and Cock of the walk. Some of the restaurants you can even pull your boat up to and go inside or sit outside while dinning,” said Dear.
Anglers fishing Barnett Reservoir can launch out of Madison Landing nearby Main Harbor Marina in the city of Ridgeland, Mississippi, which is in close proximity of lodging in town. “There’s just no other lake in Mississippi that has a city the size of Ridgeland that close to it with all the amenities Barnett Reservoir has,” said Dear.
Madison Landing features restrooms, paved parking, multiple boat lane launching and unique breaker walls. The breaker walls were built to reduce the wave action created by wind action and allow anglers to load boats safer. Plus the landing has free parking, walkways and docks for anglers to tie their boat up to when launching or putting it back on the trailer.
“Grenada Lake is the number one crappie fishing in the United States,” said Gary Worsham Executive Director for the Grenada Tourism Commission (www.visitgrenadams.com), “Our main draw to the lake is outdoor activities like camping, watersports, running, biking and other outside activities.
“It’s a four season lake where you can fish every day. There is a draw down in the winter time, but you can still launch a boat and fish. Spring is probably the best time to catch 3 pound crappie, but there is more boat traffic during that time,” said Ron Upchurch owner of PTG Outdoors (www.ptgoutdoors.com).
Upchurch noted that the summertime is a good time to start trolling PICO Lure Crankbaits (www.picolures.com) for crappie. “Summer time is great for trolling PICO Lures,”said Upchurch.
Grenada Landing is where most tournament trails go out of on Grenada Lake along the Yazoo River Basin. Depth varies from 6- to 45-feet deep with threadfin and gizzard shad for forage.
Grenada recently had a crappie tournament where it took an average of over 3 pounds for seven crappie over 3 days to win the tournament. “We have groups and tournament trails that approach us to sponsor their tournaments. Last year our return for that was 2.6 million dollars,” said Worsham. This coming year Worsham noted that they will bring in crappie, bass and even a catfish tournament.
Lake Washington in Chatham, Mississippi, is the final lake I traveled to on this trip. Like the other two Lake Washington is part of the Mississippi Crappie Trail (www.msctrail.com). Crappie regulations for Lake Washington the length limit is 11-inches and creel limit is 30 crappie. There is no pole limits per angler or number of hooks per pole limit.
“Lake Washington offers anglers some of the best fishing in Mississippi and Greenville along with the surrounding areas has places for anglers for lodging and dining,” said Wesley Smith Executive Director of the Greenville-Washington County Tourism Bureau (www.visitgreenville.org).
“I see the potential that this lake offers to anglers and everyone surrounding it. There is so many things to do besides crappie fishing, but don’t get me wrong I live and breathe fishing on Lake Washington,” said Mike Jones owner of Bait N’ Thangs Bait Shop (www.baitnthangs.com or call (662) 822-2087) and Southern Stars RV & Cabins located right on the shoreline of Lake Washington.
Having a bait shop along with a boat ramp and boat parking next to the lake is nice, but Jones also has cabins and RV hook ups for anglers that want to stay overnight or for longer periods of time. Lake Washington also has several tournament trails come to the lake plus the Big Mama Crappie/Bass Tournament in 2022 on March 5th.
Mark Hamberlin with DD214 Guide Service (Contact on Facebook at DD214 Guide Service or call Bait N’ Thangs and Mike will get you in contact with Mark) and Will Hutto guide on Lake Washington. Hamberlin’s guide service is a non-profit service that takes out disabled Veterans at no cost to the Veteran. His pontoon boat was rebuilt to accommodate disabled Veterans. “My preferred way to put veterans on fish is trolling PICO Lure crankbaits. It’s easier for them to fish trolling and PICO crankbaits catch everything that swims including big crappie,” said Hamberlin. Hamberlin uses PICO Lures (www.picolures.com) Squarebill and INT deep diving crankbaits in colors like Geezer Clown, Simply Awesum and Chrome with Blue Back.
Will Hutto guides year-round and is a jack-of-trades taking anglers out, but not really specializing in one technique. On a recent trip with Will we long lined Bobby Garland Stroll’R soft plastic lure one day and was trolling PICO Lures Crankbait the next. (Go to Crappie Brother’s Guide Service to contact Will).
There are so many great crappie fishing lakes in Mississippi and although I didn’t make it to all of them on the Mississippi Crappie Trail I plan to in the future. For more information on the Mississippi Crappie Trail go to their website or app for iPhone or Android.