Be safe boating, fishing

Published 12:29 am Sunday, May 3, 2009

As the water continues to warm, more and more people will head to our area lakes.

The fishermen have been out in full force since March, and as we move into May, the pleasure boaters will take to the water.

This fact is pretty obvious when you look at the local marine service centers.

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I can look at my office window right now and count 22 sport boats in for service.

I spoke with a couple other boat dealers that offer service work, and they’re backed up as well.

This season looks like it’s going to be a wild one. But when you combine fishing boats with jet skies, ski boats and pontoons accidents happen, so please be careful and practice safe boating.

Life jackets are called life jackets for a reason — so wear one.

The bream spawn is wide open. The only lakes that aren’t producing many bream are the waters that are connected to the Mississippi River.

The river stage at Natchez Thursday was 43.8 feet, with a slight fall coming downriver followed by a slight rise.

The flood stage at Natchez is 48 feet. The main reason these waters are not producing good bream reports is that not many people fish the back waters.

The fish are there, and they are spawning just like they are on the landlocked lakes. You can still catch bream and bass in the backwaters if you know where to go.

Try fishing the flooded banks of the barrow pits, Old Rivers and the gravel roads leading to the pits and to the boat ramps and camps on the Old Rivers.

Bream like to spawn on a hard bottom, and the gravel roads offer a great place to spawn. The Mississippi River backwater is a great place to escape the crowded waters of lakes St. John, Concordia and Bruin.

Another often overlooked lake that is home to some huge bluegill and chinquapin is the small lake at the Natchez State Park. When Okhissa Lake opened in Franklin County, the Natchez State Park was put on the back burner by most area fishermen. But if I were looking for a good day of bream fishing without fighting the long line at the boat ramps, I would head there.

I’ve heard good reports from numerous lakes. Many people do not realize that while shad spawn several times a year, the major shad spawn kicks off during the same time as the bream spawn, which is right now.

The bass are what we call locked in, feeding like crazy on these 2- to 3-inch shad. When this happens the bass can be very hard to catch.

Just recently I witnessed bass blowing up all around my boat, but the fish wouldn’t touch an artificial lure until I changed to a very small shad type.

You have to match the hatch.

Try casting small shallow diving shad pattern crankbaits and the new mini swim baits that resemble shad.

Eddie Roberts writes a weekly fishing column for The Democrat. He can be reached at