Old rivers to north producing more fish

Published 12:43 am Sunday, July 15, 2012

This week’s rain was a mixed blessing. It was too late for some of the farmers’ crops, but it sure helped the area lakes.

Water levels were getting dangerously low. Low water in July with surface-water temperature topping out right at 90 degrees is not a good thing for fishing our area lakes. I am hearing good reports on numbers of bass and white perch but not from the lakes in this area. The old river near Lake Bruin called Yucatan is the closest lake to us that has been consistently producing big bass and numbers of bass as well as some big slab white perch.

I spoke with local veteran fisherman and longtime friend Lynn Jones recently. We were trying to figure out why the old rivers north of us were producing so many fish while the local waters were not. Mr. Jones was fishing local club tournaments in the late 1970s when I started. All we can determine is the old rivers at Vidalia and Deer Park offer deeper water than some of the old rivers north of us. To contradict that, Yucatan does offer some very deep water. Maybe the fish have pulled off the banks and they are suspended over deep water. The white perch certainly have, but bass don’t roam open water that much. They do if they are actively feeding but when not feeding, bass hold on some type of structure.

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Prior to the rain this week, the extremely hot surface-water temperatures established a distinct thermocline on our lakes. The thermocline is about 15 to 18 feet deep and there is nothing below that depth but catfish. As of today, it looks like the rain is moving out and the heat has returned. Some local bass fishermen and ladies had a good time catching fish during the rain on surface lures. That bite is still there, but it will be an early morning thing now that the rain is gone. The sun will turn the top-water bite off real fast. The Mississippi River level at Natchez dropped to about 12 feet before the slight rise came downriver.

The stage today at Natchez today is 13.3 feet and falling. That was not even close to reconnecting the live oxbow lakes with the Mississippi River. Over the years silt has built up on the southern end on the old rivers. These live oxbows used to land lock from the Mississippi River at a level of about 12 feet. They now land lock around 14 to 15 feet. Summer means heat and low water; it’s just something we have to deal with. The big river continues to produce lots of nice-sized blue and flathead catfish. The launch ramps located on the Vidalia Riverfront are high and dry. I checked on the ramp south of the bridge on Thursday. It’s a good 20 yards out of the water. This would be a great time to extend the ramp. I heard they were going to extend the ramp, but I don’t know when.

The launch ramp on the west bank south of Natchez at the port is still operable, just be careful backing down. Once you get in the river, just head for the rock jetties. The big catfish have dropped off in the deeper holes. Live gold fish are producing some big flatheads, while dead bait like skipjack and cold worms will catch the bluecats. If you’re new to fishing the Mississippi River, be careful during the lower river stages. Sandbars are popping up everywhere, just hang with the channel markers and you can navigate the river.

As far as bass tournaments, the only one I know about is being hosted by the Fishers of Men on July 21 on Okhissa Lake near Bude. The tournament is open to everyone, and I have entry forms at Eddie’s Marine in Vidalia. Okhissa is a great place to fish during the summer months, lots of deep water, points, drop-offs and ridges offer the bass a place to escape from the heat.


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