Mississippi River keeps falling

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 24, 2008

Despite all the rain we had this week the Mississippi River level continues to fall.

The river stage at Natchez today is around 24.4 feet. We were hoping for a slow fall that would bring the level down to 28 feet and hold steady for a few days, but that didn’t happen. Twenty-eight feet is the best stage for white perch.

The sharp fall will pull the fish on the Old River bend lakes away from shallow cover.

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The bream that were holding around the flooded green willows will pull out to the dead snags, logs and stumps and that’s where you will find the crappie.

I heard several good reports from the white perch fishermen at Deer Park. You will have no problem catching numbers of white perch from the Old Rivers, but the size may be small.

Try fishing deeper, right off the bottom, with live minnows for the big slabs. The same thing is going on with the bream. As the river falls and pulls water from the Old Rivers the big bream will move off the shallow cover and hold a little deeper.

The Old River bass will also move off the shallow cover, so if you’re after the bass try the bluff banks and points that lead to deep water.

Crankbaits that will cover depths from 5 to 10 feet work well when the river is at this level. Bagley DB2’s and Bandit 200 series in shad and crawfish patterns work well on the Old Rivers. Keep your line size down to about 12 pound test to get the lure a bit deeper and give it more action.

Big bladed spinnerbaits fished slowly around whatever cover you can find will catch the Old River bass as well. I like a heavy jig, a 3/4 ounce jig in black and blue or crawfish colors.

You won’t get as many strikes on the big jig but the fish you catch on the jig are usually bigger.

We received several inches of rain this week and that has really helped cool surface water temperatures down on the landlocked lakes.

On lakes Concordia and St. John you may find a good top water bite early in the morning, and, if it’s cloudy, you can catch bass all day on surface lures.

Try black buzz baits, Zara Spooks and Pop R’s for big bass on the oxbow lakes.

September is right around the corner and good things will happen in the fishing world next month. The water temps will slowly cool down and the big fish will move shallow.

Eddie Roberts writes a weekly fishing column for The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at fishingwitheddie@bellsouth.net.