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Oct. is month of change for game fish

Low water continues to be a problem on the area lakes and rivers.

The good news is September did bring us a bit cooler weather. The surface water temperature dropped an average of about five degrees this month. The lakes and rivers were around 90 to 92 degrees in August.

Today the water is 83 to 85 degrees. While that does not sound like much of a change, five degrees is a big difference to the fish.

I saw a lot bait-fish activity this past weekend. When the bait fish begin to leave their deep water summer holding areas and move toward the surface and shorelines, the game fish will turn on.

Research on largemouth bass lists the ideal temperature for feeding activity as 72 degrees — the same comfort temperature range for humans. I would have to argue with that but it is what all the research says.

Looking back at 30 years of bass tournament results as well as pleasure trips in this area, more bass and heavier fish are caught when the water temperature drops below 65 degrees with the most productive temperature range being 55 to 58 degrees.

Research on the white perch says this fish prefers a water temperature of 65 degrees. Again, I would have to disagree with that. I see more limits and larger perch caught when the water is much colder.

For years a handful of fishermen and ladies had the pleasure of fishing the colder months with very few boats on the water — not anymore. As the price of hunting leases continue to climb, more and more people are taking up cold water fishing. They have figured out what a few have known for years — fishing is a lot better when the water is cold not hot.

Some people still think the summer months are reserved for fishing. I do just the opposite. From early June through the end of August I did not fish a single bass tournament for good reason. The average winning weights are at the lowest of the year and there is nothing fun about casting for 9 hours in 100 degree heat for, maybe, five bites.

The area tournaments that offer higher payouts are no longer held during the hot summer months. This fall, the bass tournament season will kick off again.

I have not heard a single good report from the white perch anglers in a couple of months. Look for that to change as we move into October and the water begins to cool off even more. White perch tend to pull offshore away from shoreline cover during the summer and suspend.

Those fish can be hard to locate and catch. That will change as the water cools down.

October is second only to March as a major transition month for fish. This coming month the cool fronts will become more numerous.

The shad that have been holding over deep water all summer will spawn in late October. When you start seeing a lot of baitfish activity in the shallows you can bet the game fish are feeding.

There is not much change in the water level of the Mississippi River. The stage at Natchez continues to hold around a very low 9 to 10 feet with no significant change in the near future. Needless to say the landlocked lake levels remain well below normal. The recent rain will help some, but we need more rain.

We just experienced a very long, dry and hot summer. It’s over now. Good things will happen in October.