A strange May departs local fishers

Published 12:01am Sunday, June 2, 2013

May is out here, and just like March and April, May was a very strange month in the fishing scene.

It was supposed to be the month when the bream spawn would be about halfway complete and the catfish spawn would be casting off. Not this year. Like I have been saying for a month or two now, this year’s fish spawn is all messed up.

Before the bream moved up (if they ever did), the catfish spawned, which is all wrong. Now we are looking at June and what this month will offer to the people that fish. We were predicting the Mississippi River stage would drop to a very favorable level for fishing the live oxbow lakes, the Old Rivers at Deer Park, Lake Mary, Yucatan and Vidalia. Today, the five-day forecast looks fair, but the 10-day does not look so good. The stage at Natchez today is 47.6 feet, which is only 0.4 feet below flood stage. By this coming Wednesday, we should see a level of 45.8 feet, which is still a bit high to access the boat ramps and find the Old River fish.

If the 10-day forecast holds up, we will see about 44 feet at Natchez/Vidalia, and then an unwanted rise will come downriver, bringing the level back up to 47 feet, if not higher. The reason for this rise is all the rain in the upper Mississippi River Valley. On top of all that rain, we still have some snow melting up north that has to come downriver sooner or later.

So our prediction of a level below 40 feet by mid-June, which would kick off the fishing season, may not happen. It could be around the first of July, or maybe late June, before the river drops below 40 feet in this area. Even though the launch ramps are several feet underwater right now, you can launch off the levee from the gravel roads that lead to the flooded boat ramps.

Now you have to search through hundreds of acres of flooded woods and matted duck seed to find the fish. A shortcut to locating the largemouth bass, and just maybe some bream and a few white perch, is to locate the submerged ditches, which are better defined as submerged channels at this level. These channels lead to the flooded barrow pits and backwater lakes.

As the river falls, it generates current in these drains. When you find a drain with current, the game fish will be there. For now, we will continue watching the Mississippi River level, and hopefully this long-distance forecast will change and we will be fishing the Old Rivers by mid-June.

On the protected side of the river, we are catching some nice bass and hybrid striped bass from lakes Bruin, Concordia and St. John. Most of these fish are caught at night while fishing the lighted piers.

I did hear several great reports on the white fishing at Lake St. John. You will have to spend some time finding the piers that hold the perch, but when you do you can load up on some big slab perch. The people with trout lines, limb lines and yo-yos are still catching more catfish than they can clean. So if you are after catfish, head to either of the three landlocked lakes for some two to four pound catfish.

The very best fishing is in the backwaters along the levee. Some of these waters are posted, so make sure you have permission to fish those areas. It will not be much longer before the Old Rivers turn on, and that’s when we will have our best summer fishing.

Be safe on the public lakes. Pleasure boat traffic is thick, so wear your life jacket and practice safe boating.