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Don’t ignore fishing in fall, winter

Cooler weather certainly brings a degree of excitement to the hunters in the area, but do not ignore the fishing during the fall and winter.

The game fish are more active right now than they have been in months. All of our lakes produce more fish and larger fish during the fall, winter and spring than any other time of year.

In fact, our late fall and winter fishing offers the best opportunities to catch largemouth bass and white perch than any season. The main reason is colder water temperature.

The “books” say the bass are more active when water temps are in the 72-degree range, and the white perch like water a little cooler, like in the mid 60-degree range.

Apparently, the fish have not read these studies, because we catch more fish when the water temp drops below 60 degrees. My favorite water temp for largemouth bass is 58 down to about 50 degrees.

For years, so many people think (and some still do) the hot months of summer are the best time to go fishing. That is wrong and totally opposite from what actually happens.

This past summer was a prime example of how tough the fishing can be in hot water. By early September, the surface water soared into the mid 90’s. The fish basically shut down from feeding. Good reports were few and far between. When fishing water that hot, do not expect to catch much of anything but a heat stroke.

As September passed and we moved into October, the cool fronts blew the oppressive heat away. Thank goodness. I was so tired of the dog days of summer fishing hard and not catching. We are now fishing and catching.

The fish activity began to pick up with the drop in water temperature. An excellent way to track fish activity and see which months are the best is to watch the area bass clubs and open tournament results.

This past summer, it took a five bass tournament limit weighing anywhere from 9 to 12 pounds to win most of the small local bass clubs.

This month, the weights have increased to the 15 to 16 pound range. Currently, surface water temperature of the area lakes and Old Rivers range from about 68 to 74 degrees.

When the temps average 62-65 degrees, the weights will increase even more with anything below 60 degrees being the best time to bass and perch fish.

To me, 68- to 70-degree water is still too warm. I was raised fishing the huge waters of Toledo Bend during the cold months. We were farmers throughout the 1970’s until about 1990.

Once the crops were harvested in the fall, we basically moved to our camp on Toledo Bend. Thus the reason I prefer cold water fishing over hot water fishing. I guided there and fished the bend a lot. It was a great time in my life to have 185,000 acres of bass and perch filled waters in our backyard.

Compare Toledo Bend to a lake like Okhissa Lake in Franklin County, which is 1,100 acres, and that is the same size as Lake Concordia. So Toledo Bend is like having a 168 Okhissa Lakes or Lake Concordias all in one body of water. It was an amazing fishery back then and still is, but like everything else, Toledo Bend has changed.

The “100 bass a day” does not happen as often as it did back then, but it is still one of the better bass lakes in the south. Toledo Bend is only a 3 hour drive from Natchez, yet many have never fished this huge reservoir. Everything has changed. I keep records. I saw one record book from the late 1980’s that showed where I caught 64 bass exceeding six pounds from Lake Concordia in one year.

Right now, it’s hard to come up with one or two six pound bass in a year. Hopefully, we will one day have better management and our great fishing will return.

Until then, we just have to take what our lakes have to offer.