Running from I-10 to Pass Road in Biloxi is Popps Ferry Road. The centerpiece of this road for anglers is the Popps Ferry Bridge. Bisecting Mullet Lake and Big Lake off Biloxi’s Back Bay the waters are a home to healthy populations of both saltwater and freshwater fish.
Location and directions
Take Exit 44 (Cedar Lake Road) off Interstate 10 and head south. The second red light intersects with Popps Ferry Road. A turn to the west along Popps Ferry Road brings you to the foot of the bridge sharing the same name. The last road before the water, Causeway Road, will take you below the bridge and to the public pier and boat ramp.
Warnings and notes
The 3900-foot long Popps Ferry Bridge is an important link in the Inter-Coastal Waterway (ICW). Its 25-foot drawbridge span opens no less than ten times per day to allow recreational and commercial traffic to pass through the waterway. With some pushboats moving multiple barges lashed together, these leviathans take a high degree of caution and a wary eye. In 2009, a towing vessel with eight barges struck the bridge and collapsed a 150-foot section into the water below.
What to bring
The waters of the Popps Ferry area including Mullet Lake, Big Lake and Back Bay lay almost exclusively in the brackish water between Interstate 10 and Highway 90. According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks, a saltwater license is required south of U. S. Highway 90 and a freshwater or saltwater license is valid between I-10 and U. S. Highway 90. This means that the area can be fished with either license. Saltwater licenses are not valid north of I-10. Any person (65) or older, or any person otherwise exempted from obtaining a freshwater fishing license, must have documentation with him/her at all times and effective July 1, 2010, residents 65 years of age or older are required to purchase a lifetime recreational saltwater fishing license. Louisiana residents must however purchase both the Freshwater and Saltwater license to fish in the marine waters of Mississippi.
The old pylons of the fishing pier are good spots for flounder. Slow trolling natural baits such as shrimp along the bottom work well for these flat fish. Good sized black drum come in close to eat crabs and logically those baits, rigged properly bring success there. The mouths of the tidal streams entering the lakes are preferred locations for juvenile redfish (Red Drum) up to twenty inches. Night fishing with a good moon during the summer months can frequent a good amount of white trout.
Because the area is brackish water, a good number of freshwater fish are often to be found in the area including brim and bass. Big stripers (Atlantic Striped Bass) haunt the reed banks running baitfish and are often a great catch. Fishing close to the bridge brings nice flounder, especially when fishing under the lights at night.
Hints and tricks of the locals
Clint Shows of Ellisville and his fishing buddies frequent the Popps Ferry area whenever they have downtime. Fishing from a 21′ semi-v put in at the launch there, Clint is proud of his favorite spot. Shows related when asked if he has had any luck this spring so far that:
“Yeah, we’ve got some pretty nice ones. We always get big reds between the VA and just the other side of the Popps Ferry Bridge.”
When asked what they are 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 glitter or chartreuse tail. Flukes (a bass lure) are good too.”
Clint and company prefer open-faced baitcast reels including Cabela’s Prodigy. Bass pro shop Pro Qualifier and Daiwa Magazine Force V’s on Berkley Cherrywood graphite rods. The whole boat confesses to use Spider Braid 20lb test.
“No need for a leader.” Clint explained with a smile.
His buddy, Brad Hill, holds up a nice 17-pound striper caught on a DOA shrimp lure for example.
James Randall of Biloxi, a local resident who fishes from the bank with a medium sized spinning reel likes to use split shot weights and 1/0 hooks to grab the always-present Sheepshead, white trout and the occasional croaker. He confesses that the croakers are just for cut-bait on larger hooks for redfish. Besides his spinning reel, Randall uses Zebco 33 closed-faced reels strung with 10-pound test. After a day of fishing, James lines up a good collection of flounder and trout down the tailgate of his truck and smiles.