Despite the intense heat of summer, this time of year still offers Magnolia State anglers good opportunities for successful fishing.
The key to success is understanding how fish behave.
"With water temperatures are high as they are, and this is a general statement for all fish species, they are going to have to feed more frequently to maintain their metabolism," said Larry Pugh, Fisheries Bureau Director for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) "However, their feeding periods are not going to last as long as other times of the year. So there will be brief periods of activity followed by longer periods of inactivity.
"When we start talking about what we call summer patterns. It is going to be predominately offshore. This is especially true for bass or crappie. Your points, creek channels, river channels, etc.- that's what the fish are going to relate to. Of course it will vary depending on where you are fishing. Any kind of structure, whether it be man-made or natural, such as trees or brush, that will help hold those fish is just going to make those places that much more attractive. Crappie notoriously relate to open water this time of year. That is why you see so much success with offshore techniques such as trolling, but even then they are going to relate to some type of structure."
Peak activity times are during low-light conditions, early morning and late evening. During those times topwater lures can be effective for bass. A wide variety of lures could be employed when the fish are more inactive. Pugh said that summer night fishing for bass can be phenomenal, and he is hearing reports of anglers fishing after dark having a good bit of success on MDWFP's state lakes using such baits as big (10-12-inch) plastic worms and spinnerbaits.
Popular baits for crappie include minnows as well as small jigs and crankbaits.
In addition to bass and crappie, another popular local fish is the bream (bluegill or redear).
"Bream are a little bit different, because they spawn multiple times throughout the summer," Pugh said. "Typically around the new moon or full moon you are going to have some bedding activity. That rule of offshore does not come into play. But when they are not bedding they are still going to be in areas near where they are going to be bedding, just in a little bit deeper water. They are there waiting to move up and spawn again."
Pugh says the MDWFP typically does not see a lot of people targeting bluegill this time of year on state lakes, because it can be tough fishing if they are not spawning and due to the heat.
Bream are great to target in small bodies of water such as farm ponds or private lakes, where anglers can often fish from shore more readily. Baits such as worms and crickets work well.
While spring might be considered the optimal time of the year for some other species, the summer in Mississippi is prime time when it comes to catfishing. There are three species of catfish found in the Magnolia State- blues, flatheads and channel catfish.
"I would say from May through the fall is really our peak catfishing time," Pugh said. "Especially on the big flood control reservoirs, you start seeing anglers target blues and flatheads with rod and reels and jugfishing.
"Flowing water is a game changer in the summer. The rivers are usually starting to get to their lowest points of the year. You are not dealing with floodwaters, so you can really pinpoint where the catfish might be, which is often just downstream of any current break. Catfish love rivers, but they don't have the stamina to sit there in the current all day."
Catfish can be pursued in all types of bodies of water, from large reservoirs and rivers to small lakes and ponds. Live bait, especially fish, is best for flatheads. Blues will eat a wide of variety of things, and both live bait and artificial baits will work. Pugh says that, when they are biting, fishermen can nearly throw anything that has a smell to catch channel cats.
As with bass, wetting a line after dark can be very effective due to the fish being more active.
"I've been seeing quite a few reports all over the state of successful catfishing trips at night with rods and reels, catching some really big fish," Pugh said.
"If you are looking for something different to do, give catfishing a try."