Rain brought temperatures down a bit

Published 12:01 am Sunday, July 14, 2013

We had some relief from the heat this week in the form of rain followed by lows in the upper sixties during the early morning hours. The cooler air temps felt great.

Of course, by noon the air temperature was right back in the 90s. The surface water temperature did not change at all. You can find some water in the mid 80s, but by midday, the water heat is right back up into the low 90s. That is certainly not good for fishing and makes it very hard to fish during the middle of the day.

The early morning bite is about the only way you can catch enough fish to keep it interesting. Night fishermen are catching a few bass, but mosquitoes will pick you off. That little bit of rain was certainly not enough to help with the low water levels and extremely high surface water temperature on the area’s landlocked lakes.

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Oxygen content on some lakes is getting dangerously low. I received a few phone calls and e-mails this week concerning smaller private lakes and ponds that are experiencing a fish kill. If you cannot aerate the ponds, there is really nothing you can do but hope for a lot of rain and wind.

The only way we will get a significant amount of rain and wind during the summer months is by tropical storms and hurricanes. I am certainly not hoping for a hurricane, but a tropical depression would be welcome. A fish kill because of low oxygen content is nothing unusual in the summer months. In most cases, the fish kill will consist mostly of shad and smaller fish, but if we don’t get some more rain soon, we could see a major fish kill on the larger lakes.

The lack of wind does not help the fish at all. Wind adds oxygen to the water. The lakes that are busy with pleasure boat traffic probably will not experience a fish kill. All those boat wakes create an artificial wind by churning up the surface and aerating the water. I recall a bass tournament on a hot, humid July day several years ago. There was no wind, but there was a lot of pleasure boat traffic. By noon I went to the area where the most pleasure boat traffic was and caught 18 to 20 bass on crank baits.

That is a strange summer pattern, but it works on these hot summer days. If you are fishing the cypress tree lakes like Concordia and St. John, forget the deep water. The thermocline is near the surface. Anything deeper than approximately 10 feet — maybe even 8 feet on lakes Concordia and St. John — will not hold fish, simply because there is no oxygen down deep.

On those two lakes, think shallow and think shade. Target the thickest cypress trees you can find with overhanging limbs. Pitch or skip cast a CrawGator jig with a Zoom trailer as far back under the limbs as possible. The bass are there, but you will have to cover a lot of water to catch the numbers.

If you fish the piers before the pleasure boaters come out, target the piers built low to the water. Those platforms offer the most shade, and that’s where the bass will be.

Reports on the bream and white perch fishing have been few and far between. We are still playing the waiting game to fish the “live’ oxbow lakes that are still connected to the Mississippi River. The big river just won’t let up. We need a level below 40 feet. The river did drop to about 37 feet a week ago, but that was followed by a rise that brought the level at Natchez back up to today’s stage of 40.2 feet, and the rise will continue.

Four days from now, we will probably see a level of 42.3 feet. The Old Rivers’ water clarity looks great. With a little hard work you can still locate the fish in the flooded backwaters. Hopefully, we will see a fall toward the end of July that will help the fishing on the Old Rivers.