Drift fishing helps catch open-water fish

Published 12:13am Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Mississippi River stage is at perfect level for bass fishing on the live oxbow lakes, the Old Rivers.

The stage at Natchez Saturday is 22 feet on a very slow fall. By Tuesday of this coming week we should see a level of about 21.6 with no change on Wednesday and Thursday.

At this level the old dead timber is showing, and that’s where you will see the bass and some sac-a-lait.

I say some because the Old Rivers offer several patterns. Some bass will be holding in deeper water along the bluff banks, points and near the mouth of the ditches and drains coming off the island side of the Old Rivers, the east bank.

The same thing is going on with the white perch.

Some will be holding tight to cover that is visible above the water’s surface, while other perch will be in open water following the huge schools of shad.

To catch the open water fish you need a good sonar unit, and you need to know how to drift fish with multiple poles. Drift fishing is fairly simple.

You’ll need several pole holders mounted in your boat. Most people use a 1/2 ounce sinker tied to the bottom of the line, and stage 3 to 4 shiner hooks or tube jigs above the sinker about a foot apart.

Once a particular color lure and depth starts producing change all the rigs to the productive rig.

Largemouth bass basically do the same thing. Some will travel the open waters feeding on shad and the only way to catch those fish is by using crank baits that dive to different depths.

With a river stage holding around 20 feet the best open water crank baits are the Bomber Fat Free Shads that cover the 8 to 12 feet depths. When cranking the shallow visible cover it’s hard to beat the Bandit 200 series.

As the water continues to fall we just keep going with crank baits that run a bit shallower like a Bandit 100 series. If the river is below 18 feet it’s hard to beat the local favorite spinner bait called a Mr. Hooty. That lure has been around this area for more than 40 years and continues to produce just as good as it did back when it started.

Another big plus for the Old River Lure spinner baits is they are tough, and they only retail for about $4, unlike the high tech new spinner baits that sell for as much as $10 to $12.

The bream are more of a cover-oriented fish so just fish red worms and crickets around willow trees, and if you find a green willow laydown fish it hard.

Bass, bream and perch like to hang out under fallen trees which are what we call a laydown.

Officially fall is here, and it sure felt good Saturday morning.

Air temperatures are falling, which, in turn, lowers water temperatures.

Even with the record low water level of Lake Concordia you should be able to find a few bass here and there.

As the water continues to cool down the big hybrid striped bass will begin to get active on both Lake St. John and Lake Concordia.

Lake Bruin is on a fall drawdown which is a great thing. Low water levels in the fall and winter dry up silt and make the lake bottom hard. A hard bottom is what fish look for when they are spawning.

Eddie Roberts writes a weekly fishing column for The Democrat. He can be reached at fishingwitheddie@bellsouth.net.