Mississippi River rising quickly

Published 12:09 am Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Mississippi River is on a fast rise. A couple of weeks ago the river level dropped to a very favorable stage for fishing the old river bend lakes but the lower level did not last long.

At that time the river stage at Natchez was 33.5 feet, which is perfect for bream, catfish and white perch. Now, the stage at Natchez is 42.4 feet. That shut all the fishing down but the catfish.

Catfish like the higher water levels are probably the dumbest game fish that swims. You can catch them on a bare hook at times.

The bass, bream and white perch are now scattered in the flooded woods. It will take a stage of about 35 feet before the good fishing returns.

Today, the river forecast predicts a crest date of May 16 at 49 feet. That’s one foot above flood stage at Natchez.

So it’s back to fishing the landlocked lakes for now. Lakes Concordia, St. John, Bruin and the Black River/Horseshoe Complex are producing some nice bass, a few white perch and loads of bream.

The bream spawn kicked off a couple weeks ago and unlike the bass and white perch spawn, the bream spawn can last for a month or longer.

On Black River Lake, you can catch some real nice bass early, late and on cloudy days using surface lures. Try Rebel Pop R’s, Chug bugs and Zara Spooks worked around the floating docks and around any cover you can find.

The water level in the complex is very low so most of the fish holding cover is exposed. We had a couple good trips on Lake Concordia recently chasing the largemouth bass. Try surface lures if conditions are right for such and if it’s a bright clear day target the thickest cypress trees you can find.

The trees that offer the most shade and use light jigs with a plastic trailer or any one of the many creature style lures like a Zoom Brush Hawg or Reaction’s Sweet Beaver. You can do the same thing on Lakes St. John and Bruin.

As we move on into May the crankbait bite will pick up. Try the local favorite — a Bandit. The Bandit 100 series will cover the shallow water cover in 1 to 4 feet of water.

The 200 series Bandit works great in 4 to 8 feet of water and you can go to the 300 series if the fish are holding deeper than 10 feet. A good tip for cranking is to use a crank bait that dives at least 1 foot deeper than the water your fishing.

You want the lure to bounce off the cover or root around on the bottom to trigger reaction strikes from big largemouth bass. If the lure is not reaching the bottom, change lures to one that will run deeper and you’ll catch more fish.

Surface water temperatures are approaching 80 degrees. That means the pleasure boaters will be out in full force along with all the fishing boats. Please practice safe boating and help us make this an accident free season.