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Conditions improve, not yet perfect

October kicked off with much welcomed cooler weather that dropped our lakes and rivers surface water temperature an average of approximately 10 degrees.

This is great news for fishing.

The shad that held deep all summer have begun to move shallow. The shad have not made a move to the banks and shallow cover yet, but they will soon.

You can run your sonar unit across the lakes and see the huge balls of baitfish that were suspended in 15- to 25-feet of water but are now holding approximately 10 to 15 feet deep.

Of course that depends on the weather conditions. On a super bright day with high barometric pressure like we have this weekend, the baitfish will be deeper. On a cloudy day the shad will move toward the surface.

On Lake Concordia there is a good top-water bite going on early and late and on cloudy days.

Black buzz baits, poppers, chuggers and walking lures will catch some bass on Lake Concordia. The bream are suspended under the piers and while the size may not be there, you sure can catch the numbers if you find the right piers.

Lake St. John has received very little pressure from the local fishermen and ladies. The bass and striped bass should be active. It all depends on the weather. Catch a cloudy, rainy day on Lake St. John, and you can catch some nice bass.

The same surface lures will work that produce on Concordia. If the top-water bite burns off, go to a Bandit 100 or 200 series crankbait in a shad pattern. Crank the outside cypress trees. This will pick off the active fish.

The crankbait may not catch the big bass but cranks will catch numbers. For big bass on these two oxbow lakes, go with bottom lures like jigs and any one of the many soft plastic creations that have flooded the bass lure market.

Of the three oxbow lakes within an hour drive of this area, Lake Bruin continues to produce the best bass fishing.

We lack the numbers of 4- to 6-pound bass of years past, but Lake Bruin is home to a huge population of 2- to 3-pound fish. The big bass will show up on Bruin when the surface water temperature drops below 65 degrees. That may be late November before we see water that cold.

Right now the average water temperature is approximately 72 degrees. Thursday we had a high air temperature of 90 degrees, so the water will be a bit warmer today and on into this coming week.

Just watch for the cool fronts. The fronts will become more numerous as we move on into the fall season.

The Black River/Horseshoe Lake Complex looked good last weekend. The water was up a couple feet and if they don’t pump it back down, this complex will be the place to be in the coming weeks.

If you want to make a two-hour round trip from Natchez and catch some nice bass and white perch head to the Saline/Larto Complex about 20 miles south of Jonesville. The remoteness of this area makes it a great fishery.

There are several local bass club tournaments scheduled this month on the Larto Complex. We will see some heavy weight limits at the scales for sure.

At least conditions are getting better. The more cold fronts that pass the better the fishing will be.

As Bill Dance says, “Keep only what fish you need and release the rest.” The future of our fisheries is in our hands. Catch and release for bass has really caught on over the past few years. That is a great thing.