Please practice safe boating

Published 12:46 am Sunday, May 16, 2010

The water in our area lakes is warming up. Pleasure boat traffic will now mix with fishing boat traffic.

Over the next few months the lakes and rivers will be packed with water craft of every description. We should always practice safe boating but experienced boaters know this is the season to practice a bit more caution when out on the water.

You would think most boating accidents would involve the high performance bass boaters but that’s not true. The guys running 200 to 250 hp outboards on the bass boats are among the most experienced boaters on the water.

We fish and run boats year round, and accidents are very rare. The majority of boating accidents involve ski boats, jet skis and pontoon boats. The most dangerous accident we had in this area last year that took the life of a teenage girl involved a small boat and a pontoon running at night with no navigation lights on.

Check your running lights, and if they are not in working order have the lights repaired. Running in the dark or during low light, like late in the evening, without navigation lights is an accident waiting to happen. Please be careful on the water and help us make this an accident free boating season.

The Mississippi River level at Natchez today is 47.2 feet. Just two short weeks ago the stage was 33 feet and we were catching some nice bream and white perch from the live oxbow lakes, the Old Rivers.

That’s over for now, and it looks like it will be a couple weeks or longer before the river drops to a favorable level for fishing the Old Rivers.

The forecast predicts a crest of 48 feet on May 18. Forty-eight feet is flood stage at Natchez. Once the river crests and the level starts dropping the water will pull out of the woods, bring the fish with it and the good fishing will continue.

Just watch for a level of about 38 feet and falling. For now you can battle the backwaters or fish the landlocked lakes that lay inside the protected levee system.

If you have a small boat fishing the backwaters can be rewarding. The fish spawn much later in the colder waters of the live oxbow lakes. Bream and bass like to spawn on hard surfaces like flooded gravel roads.

At the stage we’re at today you can probably find plenty of bream beds on top of the flooded gravel roads leading to the camps, launch ramps and barrow pits. You can also find fish holding along the flooded banks of the barrow pits.

On the other side of the levee the land locked lakes continue to produce some nice limits of bass, bream, catfish and a few white perch. We’re blessed to be surrounded by so many different types of waters.

From the river lakes to the landlocked lakes we can always find somewhere to have a fun day on the water catching fish.

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