Poor weather for picnics equals good weather for fishing

Published 12:21 am Sunday, October 19, 2008

While the weather was nice this weekend, the conditions were far from perfect for fishing.

Some people think the bright days with cloudless skies are good for fishing.

It’s just the opposite. Nice weather is a good time to fish and relax but not a good time to catch fish.

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The best days to catch fish are during the days with the worst weather. High barometric pressure puts fish in an inactive mood.

The fish in natural and oxbow lakes don’t have much deep water structure to retreat to when the air pressure is high. Instead, they tend to hold tighter to shallow cover, feed very little and they can be very skittish.

Multiple casts with a bass rig or a very slow presentation with a white perch pole to the same piece of cover will produce fish during high pressure conditions. For bass the first thing I try to figure out is, will the fish hit a fast-dropping bottom lure presented right in its face.

If so go with a heavy jig with a pork or plastic trailer. Make a short to medium underhand pitch cast with a 7-foot rod rigged with at least 20-pound test line.

If the fish are hitting the lure on the initial drop and they are in heavy cover, it takes a stout rod, heavy line and a good hook-set to snatch the bass from the cover before it can dig in and break you off.

If the bass are not hitting the jig on the fall instead of changing lures, I stay with a jig and just change my presentation.

Instead of pitching the jig right to the fish, make a long pitch cast well past the intended target and swim the lure to the thick cover. Then slow way down.

The long cast past the target keeps the lure entry into the water from spooking the fish, which happens a whole lot more than people think.

Leave that jig in the roots or brush longer than you normally would. Trolling motors will scare a skittish fish off shallow cover as well.

Make use of the wind if it’s blowing, and dial your trolling motor speed way down and stay off the power button as much as possible. Big bass do not get big by being dumb.

When the bottom bite is not there, crankbaits are great lures to use during the fall and early winter. Lure choices should be made according to the depth of the water you’re trying to cover. I like to use a crankbait that dives at least a foot deeper than the deepest water I’m fishing. The only exception would be when fishing crankbaits over shallow moss beds.

In that case you need a lure that stays in the upper most part of the water column. A good crankbait fisherman rigs several rod and reels with lures that will cover depths anywhere from 2 feet to 18 feet.

Use light line — 10- to 12-pound test on the deep divers — and you’ll get a foot or so more depth on the retrieve. The shallow diving crankbaits work better on 12- to 15-pound test, but if you’re fishing heavy cover you can go up to 17-pound test and still get plenty of action out of the thin water lures.

On some waters during the fall, especially the manmade reservoirs, the bass and white perch follow the shad as they migrate up the creek arms to spawn. On Lakes like Okhissa and the Natchez State Park, the shad will move to the backs of the creek arms, and that’s where you’ll find the most active bass. On the oxbow lakes, the bass move less and set up on cover to ambush the shad that swim by.

Of course the best time for me to go fishing is when I can. If the weather is not in my favor I use these tips and many more to salvage an otherwise long day of casting practice.