Slow fall coming down river

Published 12:01 am Sunday, May 20, 2012

Conditions are shaping up for some great fishing on the Old River bend lakes.

The Mississippi dropped to an unseasonal low of 23 feet around the end of April. We caught fish, lots of fish.

A 10-foot rise shut that down for the past week or so. The river crested at 33.7 Friday, and a slow fall is coming downriver.

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That is exactly what we need to keep the fishing good for the rest of this spring and on into the hot summer months.

Saturday the river stage was at Natchez is 33.4 feet. That is a good level for the bream and sac-au-lait fishing. There are some green willow trees in the water at this level.

Find a laydown, a willow that has fallen and still has green leaves on it, and you’ll find the bream.

Try fishing just off the bottom in six- to eight-feet of water with crickets and red worms on the Old Rivers at Deer Park and Vidalia, as well as Yucatan.

The small bream tend to suspend near the surface, and if you fish shallow, that’s what you will catch small fish. Get down deeper for the big, fat bluegills and chinquapins.

Some white perch will be holding on the green willows, but you will find more perch and larger ones on the dead willows that are not visible from the surface, yet.

By Tuesday, if the forecast is correct, we will see a stage of 32.6 feet. That is a really slow fall.

At approximately 28 feet on the Natchez gauge the old dead willow stumps and logs will begin to show from the surface. That will make it much easier to fish for the perch.

The hottest selling and catching perch lures are Gene Larew’s Bobby Garland tube jigs, like the slab slayer and split tail. These fish-catching little jig bodies come in a host of colors. The best seller is black and chartreuse with a Larew chartreuse jig head.

If the wind is slack and you’re fishing a bit shallow, a 1/24-ounce head works just fine. I like the 1/16-ounce if the perch are active. It gets down faster, and it has a bit larger hook.

However, if the bite is tough, the lighter jig heads and lighter line will get you more strikes.

The largemouth-bass fishing will really start kicking off on the Old Rivers as the river continues to fall. At the current level you’re better off fishing the bluffs, points and drains for bass.

Once the river stage drops below 24 feet, target the island side and the flats between the bluff banks.

It’s hard to beat a 200 series Bandit crankbait fished around the dead willow stumps. As the river continues to fall, go with a series 100 square bill Bandit that runs a few feet shallower.

Crawfish and shad patterns are about the only colors you need to catch the Old River bass.

As the pleasure boat traffic increases on Lakes Concordia, St. John, Bruin and the Black River Complex, the fishing gets tougher, so head to the Old Rivers to escape the ski boats and catch some good fish.

Water temperature of our lakes is fast approaching 80 degrees, and that will bring the ski boats out. Please practice safe boating and help us make this an accident-free boating season.

Next up in the bass tournament scene is the new Top Rod Series on Lake Bruin June 2 out of the State Park.


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