Fishing for the perfect bait

Published 12:01 am Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Mississippi River has finally offered us a favorable stage for fishing the live oxbow lakes.

Saturday morning, there were boats of every description headed toward one of the Old Rivers. Because of newspaper deadlines, I have no clue what was caught yesterday, but I do know several people caught some nice bluegill earlier this week.

One couple had about thirty or so, which is not that great for numbers, but the size made up for that.

JJ’s Landing on the Old River near Vidalia, known locally as Minorca, or officially as Marango Bend, is on my way home from work, so I stop there just about every evening as people are loading their boats up.

So far I have yet to see any of the big chinquapin (a.k.a red ear bream or shell crackers), but they should start showing up anywhere you find the bluegill. Just fish deeper for the chinquapin like a couple inches off the bottom.

Of course you heard me say and write it many times. If you are targeting chinquapin, red worms work best. There’s a species of worm we and most all tackle and bait shops sell called euros. They are about one to two inches long and grow no larger than that. It is a lot easier to bait up with euros than trying to use the big night crawlers like the cold worms on a small hook.

Bluegill tend to eat crickets more than red worms. The white perch fishermen and ladies have not been talking much. That means either they are catching fish and not telling me or they are not catching fish.

White perch fishermen and ladies can be a quiet group if they are catching. I am certainly the last one anybody wants to tell the fish are biting and where and how they are catching them. A few people will, but not many.

The Mississippi River stage at Natchez today is around 27.4 feet and falling. Looking upriver, the fall will continue for at least five days if not longer. Thank goodness it is a slow fall.

If the predictions hold up, we will see 26.2 feet by Wednesday of this coming week. Anywhere in the 28 feet range or lower is a good stage for white perch.

At 28 feet, the old dead standing timber — or at least what is left of it — will be showing on the surface. That will make it a lot easier to fish the standing timber for all species. The bass fishermen and ladies have been quiet about the Old Rivers, too.

Bass are different than the perch and bream. It takes a little bit more work and a whole lot of cast to figure out what an Old River bass is doing. Once you get it all figured out, the river will rise or fall and you have to start locating again.

At the current level, there may be a little bit of water in the drains coming from the barrow pits into the Old Rivers. Regardless if there is current or not, the bass will hang around a drain. That’s where the baitfish like threadfin shad hang out.

If you can find the shad in shallow water the bass will be around some time or another. Right now, my lure choice for bass would be a couple different crank baits that will cover the 5 to 18 feet depth range. I don’t crank and wind much, but I do a lot of bottom fishing with jigs.

A 7/16th ounce jig with a swim type trailer will catch the bass on the Old Rivers. Let me know if you see the crazy jumping fish, the silver carp. We have high hopes this invasive species will not be as bad as they were last year.


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