It’s no secret that Mississippi River oxbow lakes are hot for early-spawning crappies. What’s not so widely known is that Lake Washington, located between Rolling Fork and Greenville, is one of the best for pre-spawn and spawning slabs. Washington is relatively shallow, but it maintains a constant water level during the spring. “For my money, it’s one of the best lakes in the state, if not the entire Southeast. You just have to learn about its odd patterns. Because of its shallow water, you have to fish it differently,” says A.E. Smith of the Magnolia Crappie Club. During the pre-spawn, the fish move up on the flats in five to eight feet of water and you need to troll with minnows at varying depths to cover as much water as possible. Concentrate efforts off the shallow flats where cypress trees provide spawning cover. “Usually around the tenth or fifteenth of March, the spawn will start and you can move right up on the cypress knees and switch to a jig,” Smith says. “You won’t believe how shallow these fish will get. They’ll be in less than a foot of water and will knock the fire out of a jig.” Contact: Peggy Hammond at Roy’s Store and Cabins (662-827-2588).