River level continues to drop this week

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Mississippi River is slowly approaching a favorable stage for fishing the Old Rivers. It has been a long, long wait.

This week, the fall coming down the Mississippi River continues, but it is a very slow fall. That’s a good thing for us, the fishermen and ladies that fish the live oxbow lakes.

Fishing the Old Rivers at Deer Park, Vidalia and Yucatan as well as Lake Mary is much better on a slow fall then a fast fall and the good fishing will last longer.

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I have heard good reports on the bream, white bass, white perch and largemouth bass fishing. The river stage at Natchez today is 33.0 feet. That is the lowest level we have witnessed so far this year. The slow fall will keep the water clarity decent, water temperatures down a few degrees and the fish more active.

The Old Rivers, the live oxbows lakes, will land lock when the river stage at Natchez drops to about 14 feet. We are a long way from 14 feet. Lake Mary has weirs on both the north and south ends so it’s shut off from any influence from the river at about 32 feet on the Natchez gauge.

Normally by mid August, the Old Rivers at Deer Park and Vidalia are land locked but this has not been a normal year. I think the high water is a great thing for fishing. If the river had dropped below 14 feet and the Old Rivers were shut off from the river flow, water temperatures would be higher and the fishing would not be as good.

I’m watching the long distant river forecast each day. The recent flood in Iowa will send a lot of water down river. So far the forecast does not predict that rise but it is coming. All that water has to come down river sooner or later.

By the time this column goes to print the river forecast may change. If not we should see a level of about 32 feet this coming Wednesday. If a rise enters the forecast I say that is a good thing. September is not far away and the cooler days of September combined with a higher than normal river stage equates to some great fishing in the near future.

For now try fishing the old dead snags that are not quiet visible from the surface for big slab white perch. If you don’t use sonar just back off about 20 to 30 yards from the flooded green willows and fish a jig tipped with a live shiner right off the bottom in depths of 8 to 14 feet.

At 28 feet on the Natchez gauge, some of the dead snags will be visible, giving you something to line up on. The bream are holding just inside the flooded green willows in 4 to 8 feet of water holding tight to the bottom.

Some big bream are suspended over the same submerged dead timber that the perch are using. This is where you may find the big shell crackers or what some people call chinquapin or red ear bream. The catchable bass are holding on the points, bluff banks and if you know how to fish the edges of the big mud flats with deep diving crank bait you can find bass on that pattern as well.

The easy bass pattern revolved around the drains and ditches coming from the barrow pits. That’s where you will find numerous white bass as well. You can catch the whites on bright colored Bandit crank baits, jigging spoons and tail spinners.