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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors


A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Mississippi is crappie heaven

May 12, 2008 at 06:12 AM

If there is a center of crappie fishing in the United States right now it has to be Mississippi.

And the epicenter in the center has to be Grenada Lake, which tops the list of most sporting publications that compile lists for top crappie lakes. And for good reason. Grenada is known as “the home of the 3-pound crappie” and is a place where 3-pound slabs are not quite an expectation, but are not really a huge surprise, either.

But when it comes to papermouth fishing, Mississippi has much more to offer than just Grenada Lake. That point was made clear recently during a conversation with well-known crappie guide Roger Gant (731) 689-5666 at his tackle shop and gas station in Counce, Tenn. Gant (pictured at right) lives in Corinth, Miss. but runs The Pickwick Store in Counce and guides on Pickwick Lake for part of the year. Illinois Outdoors

Crappie fishing on Pickwick has been very good this year, said Gant, who has some unique trolling methods he employs in the winter months on Pickwick. If you plan on fishing Pickwick for crappie, Gant’s top two jig colors are 1. lime green, 2. chartreuse. No surprise, then, that his shop is filled with bins of lime-green and chartreuse jigs of various sizes.

“This year they’ve all been good fish. There’s no fish that are barely keepers, no 8 1/2-inch fish,” he said. “If you wanted to go out and catch 50 fish, it was the best 50 fish I’ve ever seen here.”

Limits at Pickwick are 30 fish of 9 inches or longer. And the photo at right shows 90 Pickwick Lake crappie caught in just six hours of fishing on a Gant guide trip. Even so, Gant won’t stick around Pickwick all summer. Not with the action he can find within 150 miles of his home.Illinois Outdoors

“For winter time crappie fishing Pickwick is the best around here,” Gant says. “But in May all the pleasure boaters start showing up. So we get out of here in May and go on and fish Sardis and Grenada. Grenada has more 3-pound crappie than any lake around here. And Sardis is just a crappie factory.”

Limits at Sardis and Grenada lakes are 20 fish that must be at least 12 inches long. Same is true at nearby Enid Lake, another U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood-control impoundment in northwest Mississippi.

High water during this year’s spawn will only help crappie fishing down the road, Gant said.

“There’s so many places on Sardis for them to spawn and when the water is up, there’s lots of places you just can’t get to,” Gant said. “They should have had a great spawn this year.”

Meanwhile at Grenada, the rich will get richer thanks to that lake also having an excellent spawn this spring. Three years of low water allowed hundreds of acres of grass to grow up around that lake. This spring, that grass was flooded, allowing crappie and other fish to have plenty of spawning habitat.

“In about 3-4 years, Grenada will be absolutely phenomenal,” Gant said.

Other lakes worth a visit include Arkabutla Lake and Lake Ross Barnett, where Gant has weighed in a 2.96-pound crappie during a tournament. “There’s 3-pounders at Ross Barnett all the time too,” he said.




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