Hopeful for good fishing in 2014

Published 12:01 am Sunday, December 29, 2013

It’s true 2013 was a strange year in the fishing world for us. The bass and white perch spawn this past February and March was not that good due to high muddy water on the landlocked lakes. There was only one bass caught and reported in the Vidalia area that weighed over ten pounds.

Dale Jamison caught a monster of a bass from Lake Concordia this past spring weighing over 11 pounds using a Crawgator jig. Oddly, that was the only bite he had that day. The huge bass was released.

The year continued with very few bass caught weighing over five pounds. Water levels on the landlocked lakes went from high and muddy to low and clear. The bass fishermen and women struggled through dozens of bass tournaments with low weights winning and places in most of the events.

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I cannot recall a five bass tournament limit exceeding twenty pounds caught in 2013 from this area. Twenty pounds or more, a four pound average with five fish, used to be what it took to win bass tournaments. Not anymore. There is really nothing we can do but deal with the lack of big fish and continue to practice, catch and release.

As far as I can tell, there are no plans in the next few years to stock the area lakes on the Louisiana side of the river with any game fish. Some lakes did produce numbers of fish this year. The Saline/Larto Complex was very consistent in producing lots of bass and white perch. Lake Bruin does what Lake Bruin does best which is produce some nice bass and perch during the colder months.

When the water warmed up, Lake Bruin’s fish headed deep chasing suspended shad in open water. Suspended fish moving with schools of shad are the most difficult fish to pattern and catch. Lake St. John produced some nice limits, but St. John is notorious for being a lake that is very difficult to predict. The fish will be on one day and off the next.

When spring gave way to summer, we made the annual switch from the landlocked lakes to the live oxbow lakes still connected to the Mississippi River. Where’s the fish? Talk about confusing a lot of people. The Old Rivers have always produced during the hot months but this year sent many people home wondering what they did wrong.

It was not the fishermen and ladies that were doing anything wrong. It was an invasive non-native fish called the Asian carp. Carp were imported by catfish farmers in the 1980’s along the Arkansas River. The river flooded some farm ponds and these prolific spawning fish ended up in the Arkansas River which, of course, is connected to the Mississippi River. The waters north of Arkansas were the first to be invaded by millions of Bighead and Silver carp.

Many know of the Silver carp from the videos that show them jumping out of the water smacking people in the head. I have been hit more times than I can recall. The game and Ffsh departments to the north began the battle by installing electric barriers with hopes of keeping these worthless fish out of the Great Lakes. That did not work very well. The barriers had to be turned off as barge traffic passed through the locks and the Asian carp slipped past. These species prefer colder water temperatures but they are so numerous they did move south.

Our Old Rivers are now home to millions of these invasive fish despite a major fish kill on our Old Rivers that left thousands of carp dead and floating. The bad news is that fish kill did not even come close to hurting the Asian carp population. The future does not look bright for the river lakes. The only good news about this is the carp are not in the landlocked lakes simply because those lakes are not connected to the river.

It will be interesting to see if these fish can be controlled. I really don’t see how it is possible to get that many carp out of the Mississippi River.

I am just thankful the carp cannot get in Lakes Concordia, St. John and Bruin. 2014 will be an interesting year and hopefully a better year for fishing than 2013. Happy New Year to all!