Gulf storms create good fishing action

Published 12:01am Sunday, June 24, 2012

There is a good side to a tropical depression. The fish tend to feed like crazy on our area lakes and old rivers just before, during the passage of and just after tropical storms pass.

As of today, the weather experts are still not sure what the current storm in the Gulf will do. Hopefully, we will just get some much-needed rain and wind off this storm. That would certainly turn the fish on and give us some relief from the heat.

I have several charter captain friends that work off the Florida coast. I recently asked one of the captains what the Gulf water temperature was as compared to this time last year. He said it was several degrees warmer. That is a sure sign we are in for a busy hurricane season.

Locally some people are catching fish and some are not. A friend stopped by this past Thursday with an extremely rare catch. He had a 16-inch Southern Flounder, a species of fish that lives in salt and brackish water.

He witnessed a man catching the fish just below the Old River Control structure in southern Concordia Parish. Flounder are not supposed to be this far north.

The Old River Control structure is a diversion that offers relief when we have high water levels on the Mississippi River like in 2011. The water is diverted through this structure and into the Red River, which ends up in the Atchafalaya River. That means this flounder was an extremely long way from home.

I have fished the waters around the structure many times for monster catfish, spoonbill and rough fish. Several years ago a small bull shark got caught in a commercial fisherman’s net. That is not unusual. Bull sharks travel up river and can survive in both fresh and salt water.

I have never heard of a flounder being caught this far north. The fish was very healthy. One thing is for sure, where there is one there is more.

The Mississippi River level at Natchez Saturday was 15 feet. That is very low. The old river at Deer Park is only a few inches from becoming landlocked from the Mississippi River. At this level there is very little cover left to fish around.

The white perch have pulled off the banks. Try drift fishing for perch over 25- to 35-feet of water with your lures and/or bait down to about 14 to 18 feet. That’s where the shad are. Locate the shad on your sonar, and you will find the perch and maybe some largemouth and white bass as well.

The old river near Vidalia is completely different this year. Late last year, a dam was constructed across the chute on the south end that drains this old river bend lake into the Mississippi River. When the river stage hits approximately 34 feet, the water stops flowing over the dam. There are a couple of culverts under the dam, so the water will continue running out until the old river land locks. It is just a much slower fall than Deer Park. That’s a great thing.

The Old River at Vidalia looks more like a level of 23 to 24 feet rather than Saturday’s river stage of 15 feet. That leaves us with a host of fish holding cover in the water.

For bream, fish the outside dead willow logs and standing timber. Hot as it is you can bet the bream will be a bit deeper than normal, probably holding in 8 to 12 feet. Some white perch will be holding on this same cover while other perch will be suspended over deep water about 14 to 18 feet down. The bass are under the boat houses and holding on any cover you see coming off the banks.

Our lakes are crowded with boats. Please be careful.


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