Holiday weekend busy for fishing

Published 12:01 am Sunday, July 7, 2013

It was a busy holiday weekend on the area lakes — and it’s no surprise, because it is like that every summer.

There were a few fishing boats on the lakes, but most would load up and leave by noon when the pleasure boat traffic kicked off. In reality, all of those boat wakes bother the fishermen and ladies more than the fish. On a hot summer day when there is very little wind, it’s good to fish the busiest areas of the lakes.

The pleasure boats stir the water up, pushing baitfish to the shallows to feed on plankton, and the game fish will follow the baitfish — sometimes.

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The three lakes in Concordia Parish with the most summer season boat traffic are Lake St. John, the Black River/Horseshoe Complex and Lake Concordia.

This is the time of year the best and sometimes only feeding activity occurs from just before daylight until approximately noon. Around noon, the sun will beat you down, and the pleasure boat traffic cranks up, so it is best to go home any way.

The Mississippi River continues to tease us. We had a fall come downriver last week that lowered the level several feet. Many Old River fishermen and ladies had high hopes that we would see a level below 40 feet this holiday weekend, which would make launching on the live oxbow lakes much easier.

The river stage at Natchez dropped below 40 feet, but that did not happen until today. The Mississippi River stage at Natchez today should be approximately 39.6 feet. At least, that is what the experts predicted. The bad news is we will have a slight rise come downriver this coming week. If the forecast is correct, the river level will be right back to 40 feet by Wednesday, and the rise will probably continue.

This has been a really strange year concerning the river levels. The water has stayed higher longer this year than any year I can recall over the past three decades or so. You can catch fish during the higher levels, but the areas the fish are holding is are very limited. On a fast fall, the drains running for the barrow pits to the Old Rivers are the quick and easy way to find bass, white bass, some perch and a few bream. The current draws the fish to these drains.

The problem with this is these are community holes. Anyone that has fished the Old Rivers at Vidalia and Deer Park knows where these drains are located. You have to be on the water just before sunrise to fish some of the more productive drains, or someone will be there. The other problem is finding a place to launch your boat on the Old Rivers. The pay ramps are still underwater, as are the public ramps. You can back through a flooded parking lot and just keep backing up until your boat floats off the trailer but be prepared to wade, and be careful not to back off in flooded ditch.

I spoke with several Old River anglers that caught some nice bass and a few bream over the holiday weekend. The bream are scattered in the flooded woods hanging under the matted duck seed. A fast way to find the bream in the hundreds of acres of flooded willow trees is to drop your trolling motor and troll around in the backwaters until you hear the bream feeding on the surface.

A lot of bass are scattered in the backwaters and they will hold in the same areas as the bream. Look for the bass under the matted duck seed and water hyacinths. Try surface lures along the edge of the vegetation and any one of the many artificial frogs, as well as other lures designed to work over the top of the mats.

We need about a 5-foot fall, but if the predictions are correct, we will probably see the opposite and have a 5-foot rise. So we wait.

A favorable level does not look promising by this coming weekend, so maybe we will have a fall come downriver the following week. For now, fish at night and catch that early morning bite, then go find an air conditioner.