How many places can you think of that are home to both one of the most important rivers in America as well as fantastic saltwater fishing? We’re not sure either, but what we do know is that the beautiful Magnolia State is one of them. You can spend a lifetime exploring its waters and only scratch the surface, that’s how diverse and amazing fishing in Mississippi is.
With the state’s namesake – the mighty Mississippi River – running along the border, you’ll get the chance to fish one of the most vibrant freshwater habitats anywhere around. Add to that the tributary rivers and various lakes that are just waiting for anglers to explore them. Then move further south to the Gulf Coast and discover an almost unmatched saltwater fishery!
So where do you even start? We say – right here! This article will cover the types of fishing Mississippi offers, as well as a few common targets and places to fish. So if you’re planning a trip, stick with us, and let’s get to know this exciting corner of the South.
What fish can you catch in Mississippi?
Between the Mississippi River, the different lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico, there’s probably at least fifty highly sought-after game fish you can target. That’s not even counting all the bycatch and the species anglers don’t actively seek out. To begin with, we’ll present a few of our favorite fish to target in Mississippi, and let you meet the rest when they bite the end of your line.
We’ll start off the list with our freshwater pound-for-pound champion – Catfish. With the muscles and the mustache of an old-school boxer, fighting these fish will feel like you’re in the ring with a heavyweight. Of course, once you finally reel one in, you’re in for a delicious dinner on the family table.
Fishing in Mississippi, you’ll find no fewer than three species of Catfish. Blue, Channel, and Flathead Catfish can all be caught in the “Big Muddy.” You can fish for these river monsters year-round, though you’ll have the most luck between late spring and fall. And don’t be surprised if you hook into a monster – the largest Blue Catfish caught in Mississippi was measured at 95 pounds!
With elegant spots on their tails, incredible stamina, and eagerness to put up a fight, Redfish are rightfully a favorite among inshore anglers. They’re also good biters, willing to take all kinds of artificial and live bait. This makes them a popular target for beginners and experienced anglers alike. Needless to say, Redfish are also very tasty, with a mild flavor and amazing texture.
Mississippi boasts an outstanding Redfish fishery, with year-round opportunities to reel in this beautiful fish. The high season usually hits right around September and lasts through the fall, with winter fishing staying solid as well. Redfish like to lurk close to shore, so you won’t have to go very far to find them. When the waters are clear, sight fishing for Redfish is an experience you don’t want to miss out on.
For many anglers, the Red Snapper season is almost like a religious holiday. And who can really blame them? We’re talking about a fish you’ll find on the menus of Michelin-starred restaurants! And if you add on the fact that the season only opens once or twice each year, it’s easy to see why Red Snapper is so highly valued.
Much like the rest of the Gulf Coast, Mississippi features a dynamic Red Snapper season. You can catch them in state waters and along the reefs and oil rigs located just a few miles offshore. Of course, the further you go, the better the chance to hook into keepers.
Picture this – you’re sitting at a bar, minding your own business. The next thing you see is someone climbing the mechanical bull, only to get tossed off in a spectacular manner seconds later. Well, if you want to catch a Billfish, you better hold on. These fish are some of the fiercest, fastest, and most acrobatic fighters in the ocean. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that catching a Billfish is such a crowning achievement.
To get a chance to reel in the likes of Blue Marlin or Sailfish, get ready for a long journey. You’ll have to ride anywhere between 20 to 100 miles offshore to reach the prime deep sea fishing grounds. But once you’re there, you’ll not only get a chance to catch a Billfish but also a variety of other pelagics.
…And Many Others!
The species we named so far are just a few of the many you’ll encounter while fishing in Mississippi. The Magnolia State is also home to several freshwater lakes with world-class fishing opportunities. Crappie and other species such as Bass, Sunfish, and Walleye are all among the fish you can find in these waters.
Of course, there’s more to say about saltwater fishing. Close to Mississippi’s shores, you’ll be able to catch Speckled Trout, Sheepshead, and Flounder. As you get further into the Gulf of Mexico, you can expect Cobia, Kingfish, Mahi Mahi, and ferocious Tuna to start biting. It really all comes down to what you want to target the most.
Types of Fishing in Mississippi
Boat and Charter Fishing
Whether you’ve set your sights on freshwater or saltwater fishing, doing it from a boat will let you cover the most ground as you search for that prized catch. Experienced anglers can look into renting a boat, however, if you’re only just getting to know the area, pairing up with a professional guide is the best way to ensure a productive fishing trip.
Charter captains can also make sure that your outing is customized to your preferences and skill level. This is especially important if you’re bringing your family along for the ride. Let’s face it, most kids need plenty of action to stay entertained. Picking a guide who knows where to take you will make all the difference as you introduce your kid to the world of fishing.
The same goes for anglers looking to put their skills to a more challenging test. If you plan on doing some deep sea fishing in Mississippi, a reliable boat and an experienced crew are a must. Aboard a charter, you’ll also be provided with the appropriate equipment. Not to mention that you’ll get to learn from people who’ve been fishing these waters their entire lives.
If you already have your equipment ready, you’ll love shore fishing in the Magnolia State. While you may not be able to get to the same number of spots as on a boat, you’ll have the same choice between saltwater, lake, or river fishing. It’s also a great way to explore Mississippi’s heavily forested lowlands, the delta, or the ocean shore.
Saltwater anglers will have no trouble finding a place to fish from in Mississippi. This part of the Gulf Coast has numerous piers, jetties, beaches, and bridges you can cast from. Freshwater anglers have even more options, with the Mississippi River‘s banks and various lake shores all offering outstanding fishing.
With shallow waters and extensive marshes, the coast of Mississippi is a kayak fishing paradise. If you’re in Gulfport, you can take a ferry to Cat Island and start your kayak journey there. You’ll get the chance to hook into Speckled Trout, Redfish, and plenty of other inshore species. Or you can navigate the Biloxi Marsh, abundant with Black Drum, Flounder, and more.
In terms of freshwater angling, kayak fishing for Bass is becoming more and more prominent across the US. While it’s not quite as popular in Mississippi as it is in some other states, there are several lakes that lend themselves very well to kayaking. Try the Ross Barnett Reservoir or Calling Panther Lake and you’re very likely to end up with some Bass selfies on your phone.
Best Fishing Spots in Mississippi
With so many options, deciding where to begin can be a daunting task. Luckily, considering the quality of fishing this neck of the woods has, it’s difficult to make the wrong choice. Have a look at some of our top places to start your Mississippi fishing journey from.
Saltwater Fishing Spots
- Gulfport: Surrounded by shallow marshes, Gulfport features some of the most exciting inshore fishing in the area. Redfish, Speckled Trout, and Flounder are all found in good numbers here. If you head further from shore, you’ll hit the reefs and expand your choice of species even more.
- Katrina Reef: Sitting just a couple of miles from Biloxi, Katrina Reef is one of the most popular nearshore fishing spots in Mississippi. It’s the largest artificial reef in the area and home to a range of exciting fish species. You can expect to catch Speckled Trout, Redfish, Flounder, as well as Sharks.
- Triple Rig: If you head a few miles south of Petit Bois Island, you’ll come across a large oil rig called Triple Rig. For anyone looking to hook into some delicious Red Snapper, this spot is a solid choice. It’s located just 9 miles off the Mississippi coast, saving you a long ride offshore.
- Ship Island: This small, scenic barrier island is a popular tourist destination that also offers amazing fishing. You can either fish these waters aboard a charter boat or take the ferry from Gulfport and fish from shore. The park rules prohibit fishing from the docks but you can set up on the beach and cast from there.
Freshwater Fishing Spots
- Sardis Lake: Abundant with Crappie and Bass, Sardis Lake is lauded as one of the best freshwater fishing lakes in the state. It’s also a great place to visit if you just want to kick back and relax. The lake features beautiful sandy beaches and clear waters, perfect for swimming.
- Grenada Lake: Anglers will argue whether it’s Sardis or Grenada Lake that features the best Crappie fishing in Mississippi but the fact is – they’re both incredible. On Grenada Lake you’ll also hook into Bluegill, Sunfish, Bass, and more.
- Enid Lake: Situated between Grenada and Sardis, Enid Lake holds two significant fishing records. It holds the world record for White Crappie, sitting at 5 pounds 3 ounces, as well as the Mississippi state record for Spotted Gar. Besides these, there’s plenty of Bass, Catfish, and Sunfish.
- Vicksburg: Located on the junction of the Yazoo and the Mississippi River, Vicksburg is a great option for anyone looking to target Catfish. You’ll find them hiding in the various holes near the Yazoo Diversion Canal. You can also check out the nearby Eagle Lake for some Bass.
Mississippi Fishing Regulations
In most cases, you’ll need to get a fishing license before you can begin your fishing adventure. In Mississippi, all anglers between the ages of 16 and 64 are required to have a permit. This applies to both freshwater and saltwater angling. However, if you’re fishing aboard a charter, the captain will cover you, saving you the effort of getting a license.
You should also stay up to date on catch regulations and size limits. These are in place to make sure Mississippi is able to offer the same quality of fishing for years to come. The regulations often change between seasons so it’s a good idea to check them before you set out. You’ll find all the details regarding catch limits on Mississippi’s eRegulations page.
Mississippi: A Southern Fishing Heaven
From the muddy waters of the Great River to the salty marshes of the Gulf Coast, Mississippi’s waterways have one of the richest fish faunas in the US. With such variety, the Magnolia State will rise to your angling expectations, whether you’re looking for a relaxing family outing or an offshore trophy hunt. Pair all of that with delicious seafood, great music, and good old Southern charm, and you’ll keep coming back for more.
Have you ever been fishing in Mississippi? Have we mentioned your favorite fish to catch? Let us know in the comments below!