Summer can offer great fishing trips
August is doing it’s best to remind us where we live — the South. The heat is on.
Last August, the water topped out at a hot 94 degrees. Daytime fish activity dropped off fast. Game fish will go nocturnal for the most part this month.
During the summer, many think the fish wake up and feed at the break of daylight. That is when we see the most summer activity, but my theory has always been different. I believe the summer sunrise bite is the tail end of the night activity. You can be on the water early catching fish consistently and strikes were not so far apart. At 9 a.m. (if not 8 a.m.), it is like someone turns the switch off. The water’s surface grows quiet, and all you see is a few gar and a turtle here and there.
The game fish in this area usually bury up in the thickest cover that offers the most shade. We don’t have manmade reservoir real close by with the exception of the small Natchez State Park Lake. The oxbow lakes, both the live and landlocked lakes in Louisiana, have little bottom structure and break lines along the structure. The manmade reservoirs have structure in the form of submerged ridges and points and submerged river and creek channels that offer the game fish a cooler place to escape from the heat in deep water.
The cypress tree and pier-lined, landlocked lakes are basically dish pan bottom lakes that have no offshore structure, so the fish usually stay shallow, but not active during the summer days. If you can catch one of those cloudy, rainy summer days, you will probably have the best fishing trip of your life. My son and I did back in, I believe, 1992.
It was a Saturday, and I do recall it was July 5, a day when the pleasure boat traffic is so thick on the landlocked lakes it is best to stay home or go to some backwater swamp and sweat out a few bites. On that day, we woke up to a heavy rain with lots of lightening. The boat was loaded and ready, but lightening is something I do not mess with on the water. Just after noon that day, the lightening slacked off, but the rain did not. I told my son, “Let’s go fishing.”
We made the short drive to Lake Concordia, suited up in light rain gear, because the heavy rain gear and July 5 is not a good match. We made a five mile wet boat ride to the extreme north flats that used to be covered in thick, healthy, green coontail moss. What happened next was just crazy. If I recall correctly, the first fish was around seven pounds. Then my son caught his largest bass to date, a high five pound fish. It was on, and we could do nothing wrong. I pulled a spinnerbait near the surface in the driving rain and a 9.53 pound bass hit, which established a lake record that held several years. I was heavy into fly fishing at that time, so I picked up the fly rod and caught a 6.25 pound bass, setting my all-time record bass on fly tackle that still holds up. The weights were insane. A 9-, 8-, 7-, 6-, 5-pound fish, and we don’t know how many 4-pound or less bass we caught. The sun was going down, so we released all but the largest bass.
We took that fish to the Sportsman’s Lodge where Mrs. Jean and Mr. Vic Bongiovanni, the owners at that time, weighed it on digital scales as visitors filmed the weighing and release of that fish. I tagged it with tag number 000157, and it was never reported to be caught again.
Summer can offer a great day of fishing, if your timing is right and you are lucky.
A month later, I received a VCR tape copy of that weigh-in from the visitors. I still have that tape. Memories are great. Go make some.
Eddie Roberts writes a weekly fishing column for The Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.