VisitMississippi welcomes guest blogger Mike Giles. With a unique perspective on Mississippi’s beautiful and diverse outdoors, Mike will share his experiences in the woods and on the water while helping us get to know some of the men and women enjoying an abundant outdoor life around the state.
Over the last 30 years, one name has become synonymous with bass fishing in the Mississippi Delta: Terry Bates. Bates spends more time on the water than most folks and enjoys fishing and winning bass tournaments. In his spare time, this fisheries biologist and accomplished angler enjoys guiding clients on Lake Ferguson and other Delta oxbows for largemouth, crappie and white bass.
Whether the oxbow lakes are low, high or somewhere in between, there’s a good chance Bates will find and catch fish among the flooded willows or cypress trees. Bates is very proficient with crankbaits, Texas rigged worms, craws, jigs and topwaters, but his first love is a spinnerbait. Yes, you heard it – a spinnerbait. While we’re not prone to fish spinnerbaits once the weather warms up or the fish go deep in this part of the world, it’s a money bait for Bates.
Delta lakes are sometimes murky and most are lined with cypress trees and willows, located in shallow water and have little other structure. Bates has become an expert at finding and catching four- to six-pound bass in the oxbows. “The good thing about living in Greenville is that we have so many good lakes to choose from,” said Bates. “If the fishing is down at one lake, you have a bunch of other lakes to go to and catch fish in, and there are always a couple of hot lakes during the spring and summer.”
Bates’ knowledge of the lakes and bass fishing and what it takes to locate bass on the oxbow lakes can’t be overstated. He’s just that good! And the Bass Professor will tell you that he can take a blade bait and run it around all types of shallow cover and catch bass almost year round in the Delta. “I like to fish a large spinnerbait with big blades, and cover a lot of water and get bites from active bass,” Bates noted. “If I can cover enough water, I’m confident I’ll get enough bites from aggressive bass to catch a good sack of bass.”
One distinct difference from this bass angler and many others, is that he fishes for big bass on tournament days. “I’m looking for five bites and 18 to 20 pounds of bass during a tournament day,” Bates said. “And if I get a kicker it might go 22 to 24 pounds, and I’ll usually be in good shape!”
On a recent morning, I witnessed Bates’ blade magic, as he took a couple of spinnerbaits and continually caught quality bass around cypress trees, lay downs and grass. During the early morning hours, he caught bass on one end of the oxbow lake by fishing a large chartreuse willow leaf spinnerbait with a Zoom trailer.
Later in the day, we moved to a different area and encountered stained water, so Bates switched to a dark-colored spinnerbait with large Colorado blades and continued to catch lunker bass on the spinnerbait. Bates simply casts the spinnerbait around every available piece of cover and runs that bait into and around almost any wood cover he can find. And if there’s grass there, it’s all the better. Buzzing under the surface or slow rolling deeper, it makes no difference; this Bass Professor can do it.
Bates dissects cover with the precision of a skilled surgeon and catches plenty of bass, too. He has a busy schedule, but occasionally does a bit of guiding and teaching while he’s on the water. If you’re looking for information about fishing the fertile Delta lakes or want some firsthand instructions on bass fishing, then give the Bass Professor a call. Contact Terry Bates at 662.390.3886.
For more information about fishing in Mississippi, contact Michael O. Giles at email@example.com.
Mike Giles is an accomplished outdoorsman and award-winning wildlife photographer and author who has gleaned a wealth of knowledge from a lifetime spent in the Southern outdoors. He is also a Life Member of The National Rifle Association and the Bass Anglers Sportsmen’s Society. Mike has been a columnist for The Meridian Star since 1992 and a regular contributor to the Mississippi Sportsman and various magazines with credits in Mississippi Outdoors, Louisiana Sportsman, Mississippi Woods and Waters, Mississippi Game and Fish, NWTF’s Wheeling Sportsmen and others. From bass tournament angler to seminar speaker, Mike is committed to the outdoor life and helping people of all ages and abilities enjoy it to the fullest.