Rain brings relief to water levels, heat

Published 12:01 am Sunday, July 22, 2012

Scattered afternoon thunderstorms gave us some much-needed relief from the hot temperatures and low water levels.

Water levels did not come up much, but the rain did lower surface water temperatures a few degrees. That’s a good thing, because surface water temperatures are still topping out by midday at approximately 90 degrees.

The showers will drop the water temperature a few degrees, and that’s all we need to turn the fish on. The good news is July is slowly clicking by. August will no doubt be a tough month, but once August is out of here, get ready for some great fishing.

Email newsletter signup

Unlike last summer, when high water levels on the unprotected side of the levee left us with some great fishing opportunities on the Old Rivers, the Mississippi River is at a record low level this year. We went from one extreme to another in one year.

The river stage at Natchez Friday was a very low 12.3 feet and steady. I see sandbars in the river that have not been visible in years, if ever. If you can find a launch ramp and get your boat in the river, the catfishing is great. The landings on the Vidalia riverfront were blocked off a few days ago. I heard the city had plans to extend the ramps while the river was low, but so far that has not happened.

Hopefully, construction will begin soon before the river rises. The only ramp I know that we can still use is on the east bank at the Adams County Port, south of the bridge. Of course, all the rock jetties are high and dry, and that’s where you will find the best catfishing.

Try fishing the ends of the jetties in the deepest holes you can find. Live gold fish work best when you can find them. If you can’t get any goldfish, try cold worms and cut bait like skipjack or shad.

Some river fishermen are catching numbers of catfish where Cole’s Creek, St. Catherine Creek and the Homochitta River enter the Mississippi River. The bass fishing is fair on the Old Rivers. At this river stage, the Old Rivers are landlocked from any influence by the river. You won’t finds much cover along the east bank of the Old Rivers, which is the shallow side, but there is still plenty of productive cover in the form of points, brush, logs and drop-offs along the west banks that is holding fish.

Dried up launch ramps are a problem at Deer Park, but JJ’s Landing is still in good shape on the Old River near Vidalia. Last weekend a bass club tournament was held on this Old River. Ronnie Gilliespie of Ferriday culled though several nice bass to win the event, with a five-bass tournament limit weighing more than 18 pounds. That’s a good sack of fish any time of the year, but 18 pounds is considered outstanding in mid-July. Congrats to Ronnie.

Try surface lures early on the Old Rivers. Once the sun gets up, break out the crank baits, jigs and soft plastics for Old River bass. Fish the thickest cover that offers the most shade. There’s not much going in water any deeper than 15 feet. A thermocline has formed between 15 and 20 feet, so you want find many fish any deeper than that.

Hopefully, these showers and clouds will hang around this summer. Yesterday morning, the clouds were thick and the fish were a bit more active than usual. It’s that time of year when you need to be on the water at the break of daylight, and if there are no clouds, you can load up and go home by noon or fry.