Fishing & Boating

Fishing Report

Sardis Lake - 11/27/2017 3:34:16 PM

Fall/winter fishing report. Weekly updates will resume in February.

Winter fishing usually means limited ramp access. Expect rapid water level rises and drawdowns as rain events happen and the Corps tries to achieve and maintain winter pool (236 ft) from December 1 until mid-January, then it should rise to 241 ft by March 1. High winter water releases should mean good fishing in the spillway and Lower Lake. For water level information, call (662)563-4531 or check at for a table or for a graph. Be sure to check the date on the table as it is not always updated daily.

Winter fishing can be good since the fish often school tightly. Fish bite better after a few warm, sunny days. Unlike the summer, best bet is to fish midday on sunny banks. Check water level trends; except for catfish, fishing is usually better on a slow fall than a fast rise. Even in cold weather, catfish will feed in rainfall runoff.

Winter crappie fishing can be good drifting or trolling jigs and/or minnows around the dam, over the river channel in the main lake, or jigging in any remaining cover. White Bass can be found off sandy points in the main lake but really stack up around Engineer's Point and off the dam in front of the spillway gates where jigs or small crankbaits work best. Largemouth Bass also congregate on Engineer's Point and the dam, but also around any cover in the main lake; fish soft plastics, jigging spoons, or a jig-n-pig. Catfishing is normally best using various natural baits on rod-and-reel, noodles (jugs), or trotlines over main lake flats or on worms or stink baits in tributaries after rainfall.

Best luck in the spillway and Lower Lake is when some water is being released. For crappie, fish jigs and/or minnows out of the current or right along the rocks. Catfishing is best in eddies on natural bait fished near the bottom. White Bass will be in the current where you can drift a 2 jig rig just off bottom (watch the rocks!) or fish small crankbaits or tailspinner lures. For largemouths, cover in the old river run is the best bet, or fish right on the rocks in the spillway with crankbaits or a jig-n-pig. Check out the new COE fishing pier on the north side near the end of the rip-rap.

All fish captured and kept with dip or landing nets, cast nets, boat mounted scoops, wire baskets, minnow seines, and minnow traps in the spillway areas bordered by rip rap must be immediately placed on ice or in a dry container. Game fish caught with these gears must be released. This regulation was enacted to reduce the potential of transferring harmful Asian carps to the reservoir or other waters.

MDWFP fall 2017 electrofishing found good spawns of most fishes due to abundant flooded vegetation. Most Gizzard Shad were about 3 inches, while most Threadfin Shad were about 2 inches. Many of the 2017 spawned shad appeared to be Threadfin X Gizzard hybrids, possibly because of low water and limited spawning habitat. Largemouth Bass were 3 – 21 inches with peaks at 8 and 13 inches, with a good proportion over 15 inches. Blue Catfish ("white river cats or "white humpbacks") were the most abundant catfish; they peaked near 21 inches (about 4 lb), but ranged from 5 – 35 inches. With the unseasonably warm fall, crappie were holding deeper than electrofishing could effectively sample. Most crappie were from the 2017 - 2014 year classes (3 - 14 inches). White Crappie peaked at 10 inches (2016 fish).

The daily creel limit for crappie is 15 per person. Crappie must be over 12 inches. Anglers may use no more than 4 poles per person and no more than 2 hooks or lures per pole. There is a 40 crappie per boat limit for boats with 3 or more anglers. The 12-inch length limit does not apply to the reservoir spillway, but the spillway, including Sardis Lower Lake, has a 15 crappie creel limit.

Limits on Black Bass (Largemouth and Spotted Bass) are statewide limits: no size limit, 10 fish per person daily.

Contact the COE office (662) 563-4531 for accessible ramps at current water levels.

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