River level at favorable stage for bass fishing

Published 1:25 am Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Mississippi River level is at a very favorable stage for bass and white perch fishing on the Old Rivers. Good reports are coming from Deer Park, Marango Bend and Yucatan. The river stage at Natchez today is 20.8 feet and falling. It’s slow and that’s a good thing for fishing.

Forecasts calls for a level of 20.4 on Monday, 20.2 on Tuesday and 20 feet even on Wednesday. At these levels there is still plenty of visible cover to fish, but when the gauge drops below 18 feet, the visible cover will be sparse and you will need to start locating submerged cover.

That’s when a good sonar unit and the knowledge to interpret the signals will put a lot of fish in the boat. Unlike the old sonar units, many of the newer models are very user friendly. Once the unit is set up correctly with the basic settings, all you have to do is turn it on.

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I don’t consider myself an expert on most anything but I do have many years experience with sonar and GPS units. If you need help getting the most from your unit just drop by our place in Vidalia, Eddie’s Marine & Tackle and I’ll be glad to explain the basics of sonar and GPS and help you initiate your sonar.

White perch fishermen discovered that a good unit helps them tap into an otherwise unmolested group of fish, fish that are holding offshore away from the banks.

Visible cover receives the most fishing pressure. If you want to locate and catch fish that others don’t have a clue about, learn to use your sonar and GPS.

If you’re after bass on the Old Rivers you have a couple patterns to choose from. Try fishing the bluff banks and points that offer quick access to deep water. Heavy jigs like a Davis Jig with a Netbait Paca Chunk or a Zoom trailer will draw fewer strikes but those strikes are usually from larger fish.

The jig is a very versatile lure. You can fish it from one foot to thirty feet and pretty much cover the entire water column. Crawfish colors like any combination of green, black, brown, orange, red and blue will catch big bass on the Old Rivers.

If you are after numbers of bass target the same points and bluff banks with medium crankbaits — crankbaits that will cover depths down to about 8 to 12 feet.

At the same time a completely different pattern is going on at the Old Rivers that will also put bass in the boat. Try fishing the shallow flats with soft plastics like Netbaits Paca Craw or Action Cat. Zoom Brush Hawgs will work as well when fishing the thin water. In this area you will be fishing mostly visible cover in the form of willow stumps and logs.

Spinnerbaits and small shallow diving crankbaits are also good lure choices when fishing the shallow flats.

Unfortunately it looks like Hurricane Gustav has its sight set on our coast. There are many south Louisiana and south Mississippi residents staying in the Natchez area now.

When Katrina passed through and we were host to thousands of people I heard and even sat through some of the most ridiculous meetings. Some locals were so afraid of all these “bad people” coming to the Miss-Lou to “rob and kill” everyone.

I actually walked out of one meeting when someone made a suggestion to get the local sheriff to come by to give them some tips on what to do if they were faced with a robbery.

What a joke. The people that evacuated from Katrina were among the most polite people you will ever meet.

So open your doors to these people. They had to leave their homes and their jobs.

Be nice and take time to help with directions and such.

Put yourself in their shoes and treat them like you would want to be treated during this emergency.

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