For early-season crappies, few lakes anywhere-and none in Mississippi-can match the production of Eagle Lake, an old oxbow of the Mississippi River about 20 miles north of Vicksburg. Fishermen have known for decades what biologists have confirmed over the last 10 years. “It’s true that crappies grow faster at Eagle Lake than anywhere else we’ve ever found,” says the state’s fisheries director Ron Garavelli. “Our studies show that fish reach ten inches there in just two years, while our average time statewide is more than three years.” Eagle is full of big slabs, and the peak time for getting them is during the pre-spawn period from late February through March. “Drift-fishing and trolling is the key,” says Bill Prewitt of Vicksburg, a 20-year veteran of Eagle Lake crappie fishing. “The big females will be suspended at ten to fourteen feet in twenty feet of water off ¿¿¿Float Row.’ Ask anyone where Float Row is and they’ll tell you, or just look for all the boats.” Contact: Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (601-432-2400).