LAKE OKHISSA STORY
February 18-21, 2010
By: Bo Crawford
BUDE, MS...TMTanglers Fishing Club once again journeyed to the Homochitto National Forest near Bude, MS to visit Lake Okhissa. The club visited the lake two years earlier in February 2008. During that time all boats caught easy limits of fish and released numerous fish in the 16''-20'' slot. The lake rule is that slot fish must be released immediately. Based on our previous experiences, the club was better prepared this time to take advantage of the lake's unusually large slot. We planned to hold a "paper tournament" for slot fish so that participants would get some credit for the large fish caught within the slot.
Upon arrival we learned that the slot had been raised to the 18''-22''. To put this in perspective, in practice member Benson Murray caught a personal best largemouth that weighed 5-05. The fish was 21'' long and had to be immediately released.
Lodging was provided by the Boonedock Cabins in Bude, MS. The cabins are perfectly setup for fishermen with plenty of room to park boats, outside outlets available for chargers, and picnic tables and grills to socialize and generally be manly around the grills.
When we were not grilling at the cabin, a short distance away is a local restaurant called "Michaels". The club was disappointed that the restaurant was out of their famous Boudin sausage balls and stuffed potatoes.
The fishing proved to be tough. It seems that the fish have been educated to the ways of fishermen since our last visit. Also, 2010 was an record breaking harshly cold winter and the fish acted sluggish and stunned as a result. Consequently numbers of fish were down. When we did get bites they seemed to be high quality. Team Bo / Benson caught an 18-02 stringer practice anchored by Benson's 5-05 LM. We had no reason to suspect weights would go down during the tournament as we continued to dial in on what the fish were doing. Also, the day time highs were forecast to be in the 60s on both days of the tournament. Everyone thought this would only improve the bite.
Day One of the tournament proved to be a grind for everyone. No one weighed-in a five fish limit. Bo and Benson had a brief spurt of cooperating jig fish and put four small fish in the boat for a total of 9-06. Jason and Stuart were able to catch a 4-06 on a Carolina Rig that lead big fish at the end of the day.
That evening, in TMTangler tradition, the group discussed all the different lures that were futile to try. Everyone agreed that a lipless crankbait is on the top of the list of things not to try due to all the timber in the lake. Because this makes so much sense, guest Stuart Payne naturally started day two with a lipless crankbait and was rewarded with a 5-02 LM that would win big fish.
Team Jason / Stuart were able to grind out four more keepers using a Carolina Rig, jerkbait combination giving them a respectable stringer of 14-07. At the same time, Bo and Benson tried to adapt to the changing conditions by grinding out a slow plastics bite. This day of torture only yielded one small fish and turned out to be the exact wrong thing to do.
Jason and Stuart's two day weight of 21-10 was enough to win the tournament by six lbs. They also won big fish prize with the 5-02 LM. No trash fish was weighed-in, therefore, Jason and Stuart earned a de facto TMTangler Grand Slam. This gives Jason Mitchell a strong lead in the 2010 AOY race after only the first tournament of the season.
Our club did witness several locals who experienced better luck than us. All the standing timber requires different fishing styles than we are used to seeing and should be approached with different tactics. I recommend Lake Okhissa as a good place to visit for those seeking the quality fish of a lifetime. Considering the fact that our paper tournament allows us to count slot fish, I feel that someone in our group would have busted a 20 to 30 lb stringer given another day or two to fish.
It should also be noted how scenic the Homochitto National Forest is. We saw bald eagles, turkeys, deer, raccoons, red headed woodpeckers, dozens of wood ducks, etc. etc. This was a very cool part of the experience.
TMTanglers next official tournament is on Lake Mitchell in July 2010.
Pictures / Full Results.