Crappie and other sunfish are the bread and butter of pond and lake fishing and are often the species most kids and other new anglers start out catching. Crappie are fun and easier to catch than most gamefish, and there’s not much better than turning a mess of these scrappy panfish into a fish fry.
Mississippi can lay claim to some of the best crappie fishing in America. This article covers the types of crappie found in the state, the best places to catch them, and some additional tips that will help you along the way.
You can catch three main species of crappie in the state of Mississippi.
Weight: Commonly 1-3 pounds
Length: Typically up to 14 inches
White crappie are also commonly called white perch in several states. Also, because of the shared border with Louisiana, this crappie species also are referred to as sac-au-lait (French meaning “sack of milk”).
White crappie are thick-bodied and silvery white to silvery green fish. They are lighter overall than black crappie and have vertical stripes down their sides that black crappie don’t possess.
The state and world record was caught in Enid Lake, weighing 5 pounds and 3 ounces and 21 inches long. See our Enid Lake entry among the top crappie lakes in this article.
Preferred bait: Small crankbaits, jigs, and minnows.
Preferred habitat: This crappie species prefers murkier water, some structure like upright trees and pilings, and deepwater drop-offs. White crappie also tolerate current when found in rivers.
Weight: Commonly 1-3 pounds
Length: Typically up to 12 inches
Thicker than white crappie, black crappie usually come in darker shades of blue, green, or gray along their back and sides with a silver or white underbelly.
Black crappie are notably dotted with black spots along the body. In addition, they have seven or eight spines along the dorsal fin, more than white crappie.
The state record for black crappie was caught in Arkabutla Lake and weighed 4 pounds, 4 ounces.
Preferred bait: Jigs, small crankbaits and minnows.
Preferred habitat: Black crappie prefer slower moving, clear water rich with structures such as docks, downed trees or logs, and aquatic vegetation.
Weight: Similar to other crappie
Length: Typically up to 12 inches
Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks creates this sterile spawn of female white crappie and male black crappie in hatcheries for stocking in ponds and lakes to enhance fishing opportunities.
The Magnolia crappie shares both the spots of the black crappie and the stripes of the white crappie.
The state record is 3.84 pounds, caught in the Ross Barnett Reservoir.
Preferred Bait: Jigs, crankbaits, minnows.
Preferred habitat: They are most often stocked in small lakes or farm ponds to enhance selected fisheries. Since they can’t reproduce, Magnolia crappie don’t over-populate and stunt themselves like their fertile relatives can do in some waters.
When to Catch Crappie
The best time of day to catch crappie in Mississippi is the hours around dawn and dusk.
The best time of year to catch crappie is during the spring, especially during the spawning season.
Summer and fall are also great times to fish for crappie, but anglers should target moderate water temperatures and transition times like sunrise and sunset to be successful.
Crappie spawn between March and May at water temperatures of 58° to 65°F. The exact timing will vary depending on the weather and the location.
During this time, crappie are highly territorial of their nests, making them more aggressive and likely to bite. Anglers will typically find spawning crappie concentrated in shallow water around cover.
For more information on how to angle for crappie, we’ve linked our full crappie fishing guide at the bottom of this article.
Best Crappie Fishing in Mississippi
Often referred to as the “home of the 3-pound crappie,” Grenada Lake manages to consistently produce trophy slabs in a state rich with large crappie.
One of the best lakes to catch crappie in Mississippi, this 35,000-acre reservoir midway between Jackson and Memphis has many fishing holes where anglers can pull out lots of crappie.
Hitting the water from March through May (spawning season) means finding big aggressive crappie in shallow water.
At other times, when water levels constantly fluctuate in this shallow lake, it’s best to target structures that line the lake floor. Stumps, dead trees, and creek channels that flood during high water are prime options.
This lake can be angled by boat or from shore, or during high water, many anglers will wade into the shallows and fill up a stringer in no time.
Some of the best locations in Grenada Lake include:
Red Grass Islands
This area is filled with ironwood bushes and cypress trees, with fish-holding structure dispersed between islands. It’s a perfect place for jigging from a boat or wading to cast a crankbait.
Old Grenada Highway
This area is an old asphalt road covered with water. Anglers can wade this location and jig over the broken road and submerged structure during spawning season with great success.
Pecan Orchard Hollow
On the northern side of the lake, two ditches intersect, dead-ending in a pecan grove. This hollow is a perfect spawning ground for crappie. Anglers can wade or fish it from the boat, depending on the water level.
Other excellent fishing locations include: Upper and Lower Rattlesnake, Choctaw Landing, and Carver Point.
This northern Mississippi reservoir is a great location when angling during the summer. Sardis Lake is a 98,500-acre body of water full of midsize and large crappie.
This lake has plenty of underwater structure, great for jigging over. Anglers in boats use their fish finders to target underwater stumps, grass beds, and fallen trees with great success.
Because shad are a favorite source of food for crappie at Sardis Lake, locating a large school of them is a great way to hook into black or white crappie.
Another popular method at Sardis Lake is trolling. Trolling with crankbaits, jigs, or minnows at depths of 10-16 feet deep near the dam or around Clear Creek is a favorite of locals who limit out in no time.
Some more great crappie fishing locations on Lake Sardis include:
Just to the east of the dam, it’s close to a launch and provides some protection from the wind, making it a favorite of both crappie and anglers.
Sardis Lake Marina
The structure and shade from the marina roof make for an excellent jigging location where crappie hang out around the pilings and underwater network of beams.
Rich with stumps, submerged trees, and other underwater structures, this creek arm is shallower than the main lake and is a haven for crappie during the spawning season.
This 5,000-acre oxbow lake in northwestern Mississippi holds a myriad of fish within its banks but is best known for its catfish and crappie.
This lake is loaded with cypress trees and duckweed.
Jigging and trolling are two more popular methods when angling for crappie in Lake Washington.
Alligator Hole in the lake’s northwestern corner is lined with cypress trees, shoals, and sand bars, making it a perfect early spawning spot for crappie.
On the lake’s western bank, Duck Blind Hole is a hard-bottomed spot full of cypress trees.
This hole is another favorite spot for crappie fishing during the spawning season. Wading between these trees and casting a jig or crankbait is a great way to fill up your stringer.
If you don’t feel like leaving the dock, the Highland Club pier sports an average water depth of about 5 feet and has plenty of structure. It’s another favorite spot for crappie to spawn.
If you spot schools of shad or minnows, try putting one of these smaller fish under a cork and watch it get ripped under by hungry crappie.
This massive reservoir (43,000 acres) sprawls over parts of three states on the borders of Tennessee and Alabama.
Pickwick Lake attracts anglers from all three states who want to catch its typical 2-pound slabs. Crappie grow big because there is no shortage of bait with scads of threadfin and gizzard shad, crawfish, and minnows populating the huge lake.
A favorite lure here is a small tube jig, with most anglers tipping the hook with a piece of worm.
Anglers can use their electronics to target the large schools of crappie that populate the lake, which are easiest to find during the spawning season.
February through April is the best time to target crappie in the shallows, after which the crappie move into the 20- to 30-foot range and group around submerged structures like submerged Christmas trees, fallen timber, and brush piles.
Locations like Stump Field, in front of the large lake house on the shore, provide plenty of underwater structures teeming with schools of crappie about 10 feet down.
The mouth of Bear Creek is an excellent location to target from the end of the spawning season till fall. Here, anglers have found they can slowly troll small crankbaits across the creek mouth with great success.
The docks of the east port marina offer a combination of shade and structure, perfect for jigging for crappie when boat traffic is low.
An oxbow lake near the Mississippi-Louisiana border, this 4700-acre lake is full of hungry black crappie and provides some of the best crappie fishing year-round.
During the spawn, you should find crappies in the shallow areas at each end of the oxbow.
During the winter, try fishing near the docks on the eastern shore, where the water is deeper.
When fishing Eagle Lake, your best bet is to target the docks and structure that lines much of the shoreline.
The lake’s northern end has numerous dilapidated docks, some of which have decayed to the point that their structure is mostly submerged.
Crappie love this kind of structure, and while the southern docks, mostly still standing, are often targeted by anglers, the northern docks are usually left alone.
The docks also hold shade and shelter for crappie during the day, meaning that anglers can get out on the water later and jig for black crappie from under the docks even with the mid-day sun.
Ross R. Barnett Reservoir
This 33,000-acre reservoir (a.k.a. “The Rez”) in central Mississippi not only provides a large portion of the state’s drinking water, it also holds multiple state records for fish, including the Magnolia crappie.
With a recent influx of sizeable black crappie, and a healthy population of white crappie, Ross Barnett Reservoir offers excellent fishing year-round.
Angling during spawning season yields the best results, with minnows and jigs used to pull fish from locations like Plummer Slough and Cane Creek.
During the hottest time of the year, crappie will transition to deeper water, including where the reservoir inundated former oxbow lakes and will often school around submerged structures.
Locations like Saddle Bags, Three-prong Lake, and Pelahatchie Lake are great for trolling in deeper water.
During the cooler months, the dam and Welfare Hole south of Highway 43’s bridge are filled with structures, making them a deep water haven for wintering crappie.
Barnett Reservoir, right next to Jackson, also is among the top places in Mississippi to go bass fishing.
This 11,000-acre reservoir in northwestern Mississippi has been ranked in America’s top five crappie fishing locations.
Thick with white and black crappie swimming alongside trophy largemouth and white bass, the brush-lined banks of Arkabutla Lake are perfect for trolling and jigging for crappie.
Here, anglers can target locations such as the Coldwater River and Hickhala Creek intersection, which is filled with cuts and creeks brimming with crappie when the water is high.
Minnows are a favorite bait, fished beneath a cork or tipping a jig hook.
The mouths of Cane and Mussacuna creeks are shallow flats and make for great jigging over stake beds, artificial cover placed into the lake to create crappie cover. But anglers should use their fish finder to target the nests during spawning season.
Hernando Point usually has plenty of catfish jugs nearby, because it’s also among the best catfish fishing lakes in Mississippi. Oddly enough, jigging around the jugs often yields crappie.
One of the best locations in Mississippi to angle for crappie in the winter, Lake Lincoln might only be 550 acres, but what it lacks in water, it makes up for in fish.
This lake and hour south of Jackson is home to both vast flats for target during spawning season and a deep basin at 30 feet to fish during the colder months.
The lower end of the reservoir features multiple offshoots from the old creek channel, deep enough for crappie to sit comfortably during the winter.
Here, the water goes up to the tree line and is thick with old stumps, a perfect spot to drop a line for black crappie.
Marked brush piles dot the lake so jigging off the buoys is a great tactic, especially when using minnows.
Anglers find the most success here with minnows and jigs, especially during the winter. Crankbaits seem to yield poorer results.
Usually known for its largemouth bass fishing, Okatibbee Lake yields excellent crappie fishing during the spawning months.
With plenty of brush lining the lake bed, it’s easy to find a honey hole, drop a line, and start reeling in the fish.
With a recent explosion in aquatic vegetation over the past several years, button brush, aquatic grass, and willows have helped create a crappie habitat like no other at this reservoir near Meridian.
With anglers reporting limiting out on crappie in under 30 minutes, you can cork fish or jig for slabs from a boat or the dock and still fill up a stringer.
Using a fish finder can help anglers locate submerged brush or rock piles, but the real magic usually happens over the grass beds where black crappie hide out.
Locations like Sunken Island and the minnow ponds are great spots to try, but anglers should use their fish finder to target structure and grass beds to limit out.
If you’re tired of hearing how oxbow lakes yield amazing crappie fishing, sorry, brace yourself for another.
This 1,000-acre oxbow lake off the Yazoo River in western Mississippi is popular among crappie anglers, and for good reason.
This shallow lake’s shore is lined with cypress trees and swarming with bait fish such as threadfin and gizzard shad. In case you didn’t know, crappie love gobbling shad.
With plenty of partially submerged cypress trees and turbid waters, this is a white crappie paradise, with nearly 40% of all white crappie caught here over 10 inches.
Minnows and jigs are the most popular baits for crappie in Wolf Lake, and there is plenty of structure to fish.
Rather than target specific locations, the best way to fish Wolf Lake is to jig near cypress trees and use your fish finder to locate submerged structures such as stumps and root balls.
Enid Lake holds the world record for white crappie and two Mississippi state records for gar.
This 6,100-acre reservoir in northwestern Mississippi is a trophy fish paradise. Anglers looking to hook into monster crappie will have a good chance of their wish coming true at Enid Lake.
Anglers may do well to skip the crankbaits and stick with a jig or minnow when fishing here.
Consistently producing crappie well over the 2-pound mark, this lake is an underwater paradise filled with cedar trees, grassy bottoms, stumps, and submerged trees.
It’s relatively easy to come upon a crappie hot spot. Simply use your fish finder to locate submerged cover. Then jigging with live minnows over that structure is nearly a sure way to have slabs start stripping line. Regular crappie jigs can work just as well.
Billy and Bynum creeks are solid spots to start, along with the flats southwest of Point Pleasant.
Flint Creek Water Park
You read it right… a water park. More specifically, the 600-acre reservoir at this Southern Mississippi water park holds some excellent crappie fishing.
With depths of up to 30-40 feet, this lake seems more like a catfish paradise than a fishing hole for crappie and largemouth. However, copious amounts of submerged structure, including sunken trees, make for good fishing about 12 feet down.
No wonder anglers report catches of plenty of 3-pound crappie from Flint Creek Reservoir, thanks to a robust population of shad.
During the spring months, anglers should work the northern portions of the lake with its multitude of cuts and creeks. Here, the shallow water and variety of structure make for excellent spawning grounds where crappie can nest.
During the summer and winter, anglers should head out to deeper water in search of the submerged trees where than can find crappie farther down but just as hungry.
Additionally, using spider rigs, anglers can troll shorelines and deeper waters when the action is slow. This tactic can be the answer when the question is, why won’t the crappie bite?
Instead of always targeting specific locations, anglers should choose by season. Hit the shallow tributaries during the spawn. Then, for most of the rest of the year, move to deeper water and jig around the stumps and standing timber, or try trolling well below the surface.
Mississippi without question has some of the best crappie fishing in the U.S., and anglers looking to hook into a monster slab have plenty of lakes from which to choose.
Blessed with several of the top crappie fishing lakes in the U.S. and a world record crappie to its credit, it’s hard to find better crappie fishing than in Mississippi.
Check local regulations and limits and obtain a fishing license before hitting the water in search of crappie.
Catch More Crappie
Follow the tips in this article to catch plenty of crappie at the best fishing lakes in Mississippi. If you still want to improve your panfish prowess, check out our simple guide to crappie fishing techniques and tips.