Fishermen sweating out the toughest months for a catch

Published 1:11 am Sunday, July 29, 2007

July is a tough month to catch fish. There is only one other month that tops July as the most difficult month to put together a consistent pattern and you guessed it — August. Surface water temperatures will top out this month probably in the low to mid 90s. On the big reservoirs like Toledo Bend the fish have plenty of deep cooler water to retreat to. With the exception of the small lake at the Natchez State Park, the fish on our area lakes will remain shallow throughout the summer.

Of course the early morning bite is best but if you’re willing to sweat there are a few things you can do to catch fish during the mid-day heat. On lakes like Concordia, St. John and Bruin target the thickest cypress trees you can find. The trees with overhanging limbs offer the most shade and that’s where you’ll find the bass. Casting a lure to the thick trees can be a challenge. I like to make long cast past the trees with a big surface lure and then reposition my boat so my retrieve will bring the lure under the limbs and keep it in the shade. You would think a slow topwater presentation would work but a fast, noisy presentation will usually trigger more strikes.

The piers on the oxbow lakes will hold some nice fish as well. Target the piers that offer the most shade, the piers that are built closer to the water. Again casting to these areas can be challenging. Skipping a heavy jig with a big plastic trailer works well but the crankbait excels when fishing the piers. On Lake Concordia try Bomber model 7A cranks in baby bass with a chartreuse belly of any shade pattern lures. The Bomber 7A will dive to about 10 feet on 12 pound test line. I recently dropped to 10-pound test line and noticed I’m getting more strikes. The thinner line gives the crankbait more action and the smaller diameter allows the lure dive a foot or so deeper than heavy line.

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On the man-made reservoirs like the lake at the Natchez State Park the fish tend to suspend in deep standing timber. During the early morning hours, late evening and on those cloudy rainy days you can catch fish on big surface lures over deep water. On one trip I caught twins — two 9.3-pound bass and several between 6 and 7 pounds at the Natchez State Park in August by fishing surface lures over 35 to 45 feet of water in thick standing timber. The bream tend to suspend in the standing timber about 8 to 15 feet down over 35 to 45 feet of water. It’s hard work but if you make repeated casts and present the lure with a noisy and fast retrieve you call fish to the surface over extremely deep water.

Eddie Roberts writes a weekly fishing column for The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached by e-mail at