On The Fly Freshwater
Article and Photos by Jimmy Jacobs
Beginning in May and lasting through the early fall, the monthly spawning of bluegill offers some of the best action for these feisty panfish throughout the southland. Especially the couple of days on either side of the full moon each month get the bluegill headed for shallow water to build beds. Unfortunately, we are already past that action for this month, but you likely have four good months still ahead.
It’s not hard to figure out when the ‘gills are bedding. Check out the shallow water of any size lake, particularly in the backs of coves, to find spots where the bottom resembles a pock-marked moonscape of small crater-like depressions. That is the signature hint that male bluegill have fanned out beds to attract the females.
Once spawning begins, the males become very aggressive in guarding the bed, the eggs and the newly hatched progeny. All of which can make for some fast action on popping bugs or nymphs tossed into or near the spawning ground.
When it comes to targeting bluegill on the bed, the best fishing usually can be found in smaller ponds and lakes. Such water typically produce bigger ‘gills, as well as offering better access to the bedding areas. Thus, having access to such ponds is a key to the action.
For anglers in Southern Mississippi, the Magnolia State’s system of state fishing lakes provides 7 lakes of 100 acres or less that are open to public fishing. All of these are located in the lower third of the state, south of the capital city of Jackson.
In addition to a state fishing license, angler must have a daily lake permit. Those permits range from free for youths under 16 years old to $5 for adults for bank fishing and up to $7 for boating anglers.
Lake Claude Bennett
Lake Claude Bennett (map) is situated in Jasper County, roughly 20 miles east of the town of Bay Springs. This 71-acre lake is an impoundment on South Twistwood Creek that features seven earthen piers for bank fishing and one boat ramp.
The lake also has dozens of fish attractors at depths of 3 to 6 feet, most of which are scattered along the western shore. Of particular interest are gravel beds specifically provided as spawning areas for panfish. These are in the backs of three coves on the west side, with one more on a point just west of the boat ramp.
The property also has 31 camping pads with electrical and water hookups, three two-bedroom cabins available for rent and two dump stations are onsite.
This lake (map) is located in Marion County, 6 miles southeast of the town of Columbia. It is an 84-acre impoundment in the Pearl River drainage. The lake has a boat ramp, one fishing pier and one earthen pier. There are five fish attractors as well.
The northern upper end of the lake provides shallow spawning areas for bluegill, as do coves on both sides near the boat ramp on the southern end.
The lake record for bluegill stands at 11-ounces.
For extended fishing trips, Lake Columbia offers six camping pads with electric and water hook ups.
Lake Jeff Davis
At 100 acres, Lake Jeff Davis (map) is the largest of these seven bodies of water. It is an impoundment on a nameless feeder stream of Jaybird Creek in Jefferson Davis County and is also in the Pearl River drainage. The lake is 3 miles south of the town of Prentiss.
The lake has a boat ramp and three fishing piers. Of special interest is the southwest corner of the impoundment that contains an extensive stump field in depths of 3 to 15 feet of water. The lake record bluegill for Jeff Davis tipped the scales at 1 pound, 3 ounces.
The facility also has 13 camping pads with electric and water hook ups.
Lake Mike Connor
Lake Mike Connor (map) is in Covington County, 5 miles west of the town of Collins. This 80-acre impoundment is in the Bouie River watershed and the biggest bluegill reported from the lake weighed 1 pound, 10 ounces.
Mike Connor features a boat ramp and three fishing piers, along with more than a dozen earthen piers for shore fishing access. Many of the earthen structures are in the coves on the west and east sides of the lake. Those coves also contain a number of fish attractors in water 3 to 6 feet deep.
Fifteen campsites with electric and water hook ups, along with a dump station are on site.
Positioned 3 miles south of Beaumont in Perry County, 68-acre Lake Perry (map) is a reservoir in the Leaf River drainage. It features four fishing piers and an equal number of fish attractors. The biggest bluegill taken here was an 1-pound, 13-ounce fish.
The cove in the northwest corner of the lake has one of the fish attractors and the shallow water in its upper end is a good place to look for beds. Also, the long arm of the lake running to the southwest is another good bet.
The campground on the lake has 15 pads with electric and water hook ups.
Prentiss Walker Lake
Formerly known as Lake Ross Barnett (and not to be confused with massive Ross Barnet Reservoir near Jackson), the lake still bears that name on Google Maps. However, it has been renamed Prentiss Walker Lake (map).
This 81-acre body of water lies in Smith County, some 4 miles southwest of the town of Mize. The lake is on a tributary of Clear Creek, which drains into the Leaf River via Oakahay Creek. The lake record bluegill here topped out a 1 pound, 3 ounces.
The lake has two fishing piers, a boat ramp and four earthen piers. It also contains dozens of fish attractors. The two long coves on the southeast side of the lake hold many of the attractors at shallow depths, providing good habitat for finding bream beds.
Facilities at Prentiss Walker include 18 camping pads with electric and water hook ups, a dump station and a pair of two-bedroom rental cabins.
Simpson County Lake
Located in its namesake county and 5 miles north of the town of Magee, unfortunately, Simpson County Lake (map) is currently closed for renovations. Once reopened, the 76-acre impoundment on Sellers Creek in the Strong River drainage will have a boat ramp and three piers for anglers’ use.
The prime areas for finding bluegill beds on the lake are in the upper northeast corner of the reservoir, along with the big coves on the east and west shores. The lake also has three dozen fish attractors placed in it.
The lake’s campground has 11 pads with electric and water hook ups.