Low river good for a big catfish catchPublished 12:01am Sunday, August 19, 2012
Hot, dry weather continues to keep our area lakes far below a normal water level.
That is no surprise to those that have lived in this area for years. August is always dry and hot.
The only exception that gives us some relief is the occasional scattered thunderstorm or a tropical depression moving up from the Gulf. So far this year the Gulf storms have been mighty quiet.
I am certainly not wishing for a hurricane, but a tropical depression and some much needed rain would be welcomed by most.
As you cross the Mississippi River bridges between Natchez and Vidalia, look down at the river. You will see sandbars that have not been visible for years.
The Mississippi River level is extremely low. At Natchez Saturday, the river stage was 8.7 feet. That’s up a foot from a couple days ago when the level hit the lowest I can ever recall at 7.7 feet.
Looking at the long distance forecast this morning, there is no change in the river level for the next week or so. The good thing about a low river is the big catfish drop off into the deep holes.
Reports of 40-plus pound catfish are still coming in with last week’s 62 pound blue cat being the largest I have seen this year.
Those fish came from 60- to 70-feet of water. Live goldfish and pond bream seem to be the best bait.
Needless to say (again), the Old Rivers are landlocked from any influence by the Mississippi River. Despite the low water level of the Old Rivers, this is the place to be to catch white perch and bass on the Louisiana side of the river.
The action is limited to the early morning hours. By 11 a.m., you can load the boat and head to the house.
Those that can stand the heat can still catch a few fish, it’s just hard work.
On lakes Concordia, St. John and Bruin you would think the bass would go deep, but they don’t. The catchable fish don’t. You should just stay shallow and target the cypress trees and boat docks that offer the most shade.
On Lake Bruin, you can see bass suspended under the piers. The water clarity on this sand bottom oxbow lake is always a bit better than the water clarity in the other oxbows.
Catching those suspended fish during the day is a challenge.
Weightless and whacky-rigged worms would probably work, and you may pick off a few on mid-range crank baits, but it won’t be easy.
The fish feel about the same way we do in mid-August. They will eat a big meal and lay up for hours. It would be safe to say they eat that meal at night or just before the sun rises or sets.
In the early morning, you can do yourself a favor and be in more productive water by fishing the east bank of the lakes you fish.
In the evening, move to the west bank to take advantage of the shade as the sun sets and rises. That only holds true if there is cover on that side of the lake.
On the east banks of the Old Rivers at Vidalia and Deer Park there is little to no cover for the fish to hold. So if you fish the Old Rivers, you will basically be on the west side where there is deeper water and more cover.
All we can do is take what we are offered this month and wait for September. Good things will happen as the nights grow cooler and the days get shorter.
I am certainly ready for cooler weather and better fishing.
Eddie Roberts writes a weekly fishing column for The Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.