River levels continue to affect fishingPublished 12:02am Sunday, July 17, 2011
The Mississippi River continues to tease us with a super slow fall.
The level is so close to being just right for some great fishing opportunities, but we still need a level about 5 feet lower than where we were this weekend.
The stage Friday at Natchez was 42.3 feet.
At 38 feet a lot of water will pull out of the flooded woods. At 38 feet the fish will be much easier to locate. At that level expect the big red ear and bluegill to be holding just inside the flooded green willows.
If you’re catching a lot of small bream you may be fishing too shallow. The big fish tend to hold under the little fish.
Add an extra split shot or two to your worm or cricket rig to get past the little bait stealers.
I spoke with a couple fishermen that have the sac-a-lait located on the Old Rivers. That is not an easy thing to do at this higher river stage.
Try fishing along the outside edge of the green willows. This may look like open water but 15 to 18 feet down is where the old dead stumps and logs are located, and that’s where you’ll find the slab white perch.
The Old River fish are fat and healthy thanks to the record flood level.
Shad are abundant to say the least. Follow the shad and you’ll find the largemouth and white bass as well as the perch.
Early in the morning the shad will be near the surface which makes finding them a visual deal.
Once the sun comes the shad drop down and suspend over deep water in the 8 to 15 feet depths. This is where your sonar unit comes into play.
If the bait fish are not visible on the surface just idle around watching your sonar.
The shad will be bunched up at a certain depth. If you find real tight groups of shad it will look like a ball on your sonar screen. The shad hold tight together when game fish are feeding as a means of confusing the fish into thinking the shad school is one big blob of a fish.
The bass hold under these schooled up baitfish picking off any shad that are struggling to keep up with the school.
We had good luck on the white bass by trolling 200 and 300 series Bandit crank baits at a pretty fast clip. White bass may not eat well, but they are a great fish to target if you have kids on-board.
While trolling for the whites we picked up four really fat largemouth bass from the Old River at Vidalia.
While both the Old River at Vidalia and Deer Park are producing right now, Deer Park gets the thumbs-up for producing more and larger fish. More than likely that’s because of the location.
Deer Park is 17 miles south of Vidalia. Old River Vidalia is only a few minutes from the city limits, therefore this live oxbow receives more fishing pressure.
Fishing pressure is not a problem right now. The launch ramps are still several feet underwater, so the guys in the big glitter rigs have yet to even try the Old Rivers.
Right now we’re launching aluminum rigs off the gravel roads leading to the ramps. When you scratch an aluminum rig a can of spray paint will cover the scratch.
If you gouge a fiberglass hull get ready for a very expensive repair bill.
Looking at the river forecast the slow fall will continue for at least the next five days.
By Wednesday of this coming week the level will be around 41.3 feet at Natchez.
Eddie Roberts writes a weekly fishing column for The Democrat. He can be reached at email@example.com.