From I-10 to Pass Road in Biloxi is Popps Ferry Road. The centerpiece of this trail for anglers is the Popps Ferry Bridge. The waters that divide Mullet Lake and Big Lake across from Back Bay in Biloxi are home to healthy populations of freshwater and saltwater fish.
Location and directions
Take exit 44 (Cedar Lake Road) for Interstate 10 and head south. The second red light intersects with Popps Ferry Road. A turn west along Popps Ferry Road brings you to the foot of the bridge that shares the same name. The last road before the water, Causeway Road, will take you under the bridge to the public dock and boat ramp.
Warnings and notes
The 3,900-foot-long Popps Ferry Bridge is a major link in the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW). Its 25-foot drawbridge span opens no fewer than ten times a day to allow recreational and commercial traffic to pass through the waterway. With some push boats moving multiple barges moored together, these leviathans take a high degree of caution and a wary eye. In 2009, a tugboat with eight barges hit the bridge, collapsing a 150-foot section into the water below.
The waters of the Popps Ferry area, including Mullet Lake, Big Lake and Back Bay, are found almost exclusively in the brackish water between Interstate 10 and Highway 90. According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Parks and Fisheries, it is required a saltwater license south of US Highway 90 and a fresh or saltwater license is valid between I-10 and US Highway 90. This means you can fish in the area with either two licenses. Saltwater licenses are not valid north of I-10. Anyone (65 years of age) or older, or anyone exempt from obtaining a freshwater fishing license, must have documentation with him/her at all times and, as of July 1, 2010, residents 65 years of age or most must purchase a lifetime fishing license. Saltwater recreational fishing license. However, Louisiana residents must purchase both a freshwater and saltwater license to fish in Mississippi marine waters.
Old fishing pier pylons are good places for flooding. Slow trolling natural baits such as shrimp along the bottom work well for these flatfish. Good-sized black drum come over to eat crabs and, not surprisingly, those baits, properly rigged, bring success there. The mouths of tidal streams entering the lakes are preferred locations for juvenile Red Drum up to twenty inches. Night fishing with a good moon during the summer months can frequent a good number of white trout.
Because the area is brackish water, a good number of freshwater fish are often found in the area, including wing and bass. Large stripers (Atlantic Striped Bass) frequent rush schools running for bait and are often a big catch. Fishing near the bridge brings good flooding, especially when fishing under lights at night.
Tips and tricks from the locals.
Clint Shows from Ellisville and his fishing buddies frequent the Popps Ferry area when they have downtime. Fishing from a 21′ semi-v set up at the launch there, Clint is proud of his favorite spot. He shows related when asked if he has been lucky this spring so far that:
“Yeah, we’ve got some really good ones. We always have big red numbers between the VA and the other side of the Popps Ferry bridge.”
When asked what they were having luck with, he advised, “We were using spinner baits like redfish magic. Root beer colored cocahoe minnows seem to work as well as just about any bright tail or chartreuse. sea bass) are also good.”
Clint and company prefer open face baitcast reels, including Cabela’s Prodigy. Bass pro shop Pro Qualifier and Daiwa Magazine Force V on Berkley Cherrywood graphite shafts. The entire boat confesses to using the Spider Braid 20lb test.
“There is no need for a leader.” Clint explained with a smile.
His friend, Brad Hill, holds a beautiful 17-pound skimmer caught on a DOA shrimp lure, for example.
James Randall of Biloxi, a local who fishes from the shore with a medium-sized spinning reel, likes to use split weights and 1/0 hooks to catch the ever-present Sheepshead, White Trout and the occasional Corvina. He confesses that the croakers are just for bait cut into larger redfish hooks. In addition to his spinning reel, Randall uses Zebco 33 closed spools strung with 10lb test. After a day of fishing, James lines up a nice collection of trout and trout out the back door of his truck and smiles.
“It’s always good to fish down here from this bridge”