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Boating season starts this weekend

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial beginning of pleasure boat season. That was certainly very evident yesterday morning. I saw boats of every description out and about headed to one of the lakes.

Today and tomorrow we will probably see about the same amount of boat traffic on the area lakes. This is what I call one of the three “water” holidays.

Next up will be the Fourth of July and then Labor Day. The surface water temperature has warmed up so there is no longer a chill to the water.

Last weekend, the surface water temperature averaged about 76 degrees and rising. Yesterday morning, fishing boats were everywhere, going in all directions.

By noon, many of the fishing boats loaded out and the pontoons, ski boats and jet skis launched for a fun filled day of playing on the water.

That was a busy day on our area lakes. There was a huge bass tournament on the Saline/Larto Complex along with a local white perch tournament out of Larto Lake. Add the holiday boat traffic on Saline/Larto Complex, I would guess there were probably two to three hundred boats on the Complex.

There was also a small bass club tournament on Lake Concordia yesterday mixed in with all the pleasure boaters and fishing boat. I don’t understand why anyone would schedule a bass or perch tournament on this holiday weekend, but they do. We do not do that. I keep any events we run far away from holiday weekends.

Being in the boat sales and boat and motor repair business, I sure did not want to be anywhere around the public lakes this holiday weekend.

Normally, I would go to a remote swamp like Turkey Creek where there are no boat roads and idle speed is even too fast in some areas of Turkey Creek with its many underwater cypress stumps and 200-plus-year-old cypress trees.

Some of the cypress trees in this bottom land swamp are so huge you can fish the same tree for thirty minutes. As exotic, non-native plant called Giant Salvinia was reported to be in Turkey Creek.  It is a small free-floating plant that grows in clusters and develops into dense, floating mats or colonies.

Giant Salvinia is like the kudzu of the water world. Left alone it grows so thick and so fast it blocks out any sunlight and when you have no sunlight the water clarity and lower food chain takes a beating.

Hopefully last year’s drawdown removed this “cancer” of a plant from the swamp and the good fishing will return.

Turkey Creek is beautiful. The bald cypress trees are amazing and wildlife in the form of herons, alligators, beavers and no telling what else you might see in this swamp. I love to go there and fish and take pictures.

Right now many of us are waiting on the Mississippi River level to drop to a favorable level for fishing the live oxbow lakes at Yucatan, Deer Park, Vidalia and Lake Mary.

These live oxbows are still connected to the river and once we see a level below 40 feet on the Natchez/Vidalia gauge, it is time to start fishing for the big Old River white perch, bass, bream and white bass as well as catfish.

Today’s stage at Natchez is 50.4 feet and falling. The flood stage at Natchez is 48 feet. So we just have to keep watch on the river stage and get ready for some of the best fishing this area has to offer.

Please be careful today and tomorrow while on the water at the landlocked public lakes. Wear your life jacket when underway.  I have yet to witness a drowning or a body recovery where the victim was wearing a PFD (personal floatation device). so please wear it. A good life jacket can save your life.


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