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Lack of moss leaves local water murky

The winter-to-spring transition has kicked off on our area lakes.

The bass and sac-a-lait spawn is about a week late as compared to past years. Mid-February cold fronts kept the water temperatures down and held the fish back. Air temperatures in the 70s this week along with some much needed sunshine will push the first wave of spawning fish to shallow water. That’s happening right now.

Just stick with shallow water, and you will find plenty of fish.

Of course all fish do not spawn at the same time. If they did and the water levels dropped out from under the beds or a massive cold front passed, we would lose a full year class of fish.

So from now through April we will see a lot of bass and perch in shallow water laying eggs and guarding their nest.

Well, we won’t actually see the fish. Our water is rarely clear enough to allow sight fishing any more.

In the 1980s and 1990s Lakes Concordia, St. John, Bruin and the lake at the Natchez State Park had a lot of vegetation in the form of coontail moss. The moss filtered the water which increased the water quality and clarity.

We could see the fish on the beds during those years. Lake Bruin still has some moss and you can find small patches of coontail moss in Lake St. John but it’s rare to find any in Lake Concordia or the Natchez State Park lake, both of which were once loaded with crisp green moss.

When the moss leaves, the fishing population drops off. That’s a proven fact. A good example is the little Natchez State Park lake.

Just about everyone that fished the park in the 1990s caught a bass over 10 pounds and the bream were huge. The moss continued to grow and the bass just kept getting larger.

The 18 pound 2.4 ounce Mississippi state record largemouth bass was caught from this small 250 acre lake on Dec. 31, 1992. That record still holds.

Nothing has even come close to the state record in the past 35 years. Some locals that didn’t know any better began to complain that they could not get to the big fish that were buried in the moss.

Grass carp were stocked in the lake. The moss disappeared and the trophy bass disappeared. Some may argue that the lake’s bass population just peaked and fell off. I don’t believe that at all.

Just look at all the trophy bass lakes in Texas, California and other states. Those lakes are old and continue to get better every year. All the lakes that produce trophy largemouth bass have acres of vegetation.

When Lake Concordia produced all those bass over 10 pounds in the 1990s we had coontail moss all around the lake. For whatever reason, the moss is gone and the 10 pounders no longer show up.

I know back then there was a cow pasture on the east bank of Lake Concordia. When the pasture was plowed up and corn was planted the moss died out.

My theory is whatever chemicals ran off into the lake from the surrounding farm land killed the moss.

If grass carp were stocked in Lake Concordia there is no record of it that I can find.

Last spring’s low water level followed by a summer drought certainly didn’t help the moss make a comeback. Hopefully something will change.

The grass carp in the Natchez State Park lake are sterile, so if they don’t stock any more carp in the lake they should die out and the moss will come back along with the pretty blue/green water we used to have at the park.

Moss is not only a filter. It’s also home to the food base. Moss gives the small fish a place to hide and grow. If we can get our lakes back to a stable water level, and the moss returns people will no longer travel to other states to spend their money to catch trophy bass, huge bream and limits of white perch.

Visitors would return to Adams County and Concordia Parish to spend their money here like they did in the 1990s.

We could certainly use a boost in the local economy. Great fishing like we used to have would do just that. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that.

 

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