September leaves, October’s here

Published 12:01 am Sunday, October 2, 2011

Another month is behind us. September was good for fishing, and October will be even better.

I would say the lakes and rivers will be a bit less crowded with various hunting seasons about to kick off. Over the years more and more sportsmen and ladies have discovered what we have known for years.

The best fishing is not during the summer months. Fall, winter and spring are by far more productive than trying to catch fish from 95-degree water during the summer. In fact, July and August are the worse months.

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Currently, surface water temperatures top out by midday around 82 to 83 degrees. That’s still a bit warm, but cold fronts will start to drop down a bit further south and, more importantly, the winds will begin to blow. Wind is a fisherman’s friend if you use it to your advantage.

No matter the season, I always try to locate bass and other game fish along the windblown banks. Some people think it’s because the wind blows the baitfish up against the bank and into the shallow flats. That’s not really true. Wind pushes the food that shad feed on. Shad are filter-feeders and feed mainly on zooplankton and phytoplankton. Phytoplankton and zooplankton is the same food source that your sport fish (Bluegill and small bass) feed on.

The other good thing about windblown banks is most people avoid the areas because it can be difficult to control a boat. It’s not if you have a high-thrust trolling motor. Most boats are prepackaged with trolling motors from the factory that do not have enough thrust to fish on windy days.

When purchasing a package rig, do yourself a favor and upgrade the trolling motor. You can’t have too much trolling motor. Currently, I am fishing from a small 15’ SeaArk equipped with a MinnKota 24-volt, 70-pound thrust trolling motor that’s capable of pushing a good size heavy fiberglass boat.

I am really enjoying this little rig. I can get in places where the big boats can’t. The big glitter boat guys may get to an area first, but they cannot get into the shallows like this small boat can. Small rigs do have their faults. A 15- to 20-mph wind will make for a rough ride, so you have to sacrifice one thing to get another.

Getting back to the shad and wind pattern — in October, we’ll experience a shad spawn on all the area lakes. The most abundant shad is the threadfin that don’t grow much larger than 3 to 4 inches. The gizzard shad grows much larger. Just match the hatch.

If you see threadfin shad, keep your lure size scaled down and if gizzard shad are around go with larger lures. Sac-a-lait don’t feed on the big gizzard shad, but they will munch out on threadfin shad.

The Old Rivers at Vidalia and Deer Park continue to be the best place to catch limits of bass, bream, sac-a-lait and catfish. The Mississippi River stage at Natchez today is 21.1 feet with a slight rise coming downriver. We should see a level of about 22.9 by Wednesday and then a sharp fall.

By next weekend the Old Rivers should be in great shape. October is here, and get ready for some great fishing.