Archived Story

Possible fish kill in September

Published 12:01am Sunday, September 1, 2013

The depressing August fishing reports picked up a bit this past week. It may not be a sudden change, but a change is coming soon in the form of cooler weather.

We thought August would never end. Day after day, the air temperature was near or at 100 degrees and 97 degrees in the shade. Fishing reports certainly reflected how heat affects the fishing and the people. Many people fished the Old Rivers during the early morning hours and left by noon when the heat turned up. I counted 38 trucks and trailers one Saturday morning at daylight at one of the Old River ramps.

I drove back by noon and there was one truck and trailer in the lot. A few were catching fish, but many were not. The recent rise brought the Mississippi River up to about 34 feet.

A sharp fall followed the rise, so the river is back down to just about the level we were at before the rise, which was 22 feet.

The Mississippi River stage at Natchez today is 23.6 feet with a slow fall in the forecast for the next few days. If there was one river stage I could pick that would be favorable for bream, bass, white perch and white bass, it would be 22 to 24 feet.

This year has been a bit unusual though. Many people have jokingly asked me to stop writing such depressing fishing reports, but reports are reports be it good or bad.

Unfortunately, the bad reports are more numerous than the good reports. That is typical for August. The lack of fish caught from the Old Rivers could be because the river dropped out of the woods so much later in the summer than normal.

It was early August before a fall lowered the river stage from about the 40 feet level, down to a fishable level on the Old Rivers.

The waters coming from the woods and barrow pits are extremely hot with some surface water temp as high as 93 degrees. We have some very experienced fishermen in this area. Some face a challenge head on and some caught fish.

Like I mentioned the last time the river was near this stage, the people that caught the white perch found them suspended offshore over water as deep as 25 to 40 feet, but the perch were only 12 feet down. It would be a safe guess that the perch are back on the pattern.

I bet the thermocline is 15 to 18 feet down but with fluctuating water the thermocline will be at different depths in different areas of the Old Rivers.

That’s what pushes the game fish up toward the surface. The worse thing that could happen to the deep bite is for the heat and bright days to continue. The thermocline will keep pushing toward the surface, which is good and bad.

If this does happen, get ready for what we usually see each September, a fish kill. It will be mostly small yellow bass, gizzard and threadfin shad. We need rain, clouds and wind to aerate the water.

The forecast predicts highs in the mid 90’s and a slight chance of afternoon thunderstorms this coming week. Many of the Old River bass fishermen gave up. Catches of 3 to 4 to no bass sent them looking for bass in other lakes. Some have found enough fish to keep it interesting.

I plan to spend some time on Deer Park this holiday weekend running sonar to see if the bass have pulled off the banks. A jigging spoon, heavy jig and big deep diving crank bait will be the “search” lures. The bass have to be somewhere. The backwaters were loaded with fish before the river dropped 17 feet.

Of course the first couple weeks of September will be much like August, hot. The days will soon get shorter and the nights will get cooler.

When that happens, we will see some major changes in the fish activity. I am past ready for cooler water. This hot water fishing is just not fun.