Fishing is the new hunting

Published 12:01 am Sunday, September 7, 2014

A few showers moved through the area this week and cooled the lakes down a bit. I am so glad summer is winding down. Of course, we will still have some hot, humid days in September, but the heat is slowly losing its grip.

Most everyone knows I am not a summer angler. Since mid-June, I have fished little simply because in this area summer fishing is hard work.

A fair guess of what the surface water temperature of the area lakes is today would be about 85 degrees. My favorite water temp for bass fishing is 57-58 degrees or even colder.

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Of course we are a long way from water that cold, but every degree the water temperature drops, the more active the fish will be.

If you read the studies about largemouth bass and white perch, the books will tell you game-fish are most active at 72 degrees. Well, fish can’t read.

I have 40 years of experience fishing these lakes and have friends that have fished this area longer than that. Most of the experienced anglers that catch consistently, and not just fish, will all agree that the largemouth bass and perch are much easier to catch when water temps drop below 70 degrees, and it gets even better below 60 degrees.

I am not sure why the studies say 72 degrees, which is the same temperature that is supposed to be the most comfortable for humans.

Most of the fishing related articles people read are about reservoir fishing. With the exception of the small 250 acre man-made reservoir at the Natchez State Park, and the 1,100 acre reservoir in Franklin County, Okhissa Lake, we fish landlocked and live Mississippi River oxbow lakes. Excluding Lake Bruin, there is little offshore cover in these lakes.

You will find few articles on fishing waters like we fish. The bottom of these lakes is more like a dishpan, meaning the bottom is featureless and lacks the submerged creek channels, points, and ridges that reservoirs offer.

We do have a few man-made brush piles sunk in our lakes but that is about it. The rest of what we fish is cypress trees and piers so what you see and fish is the same thing everyone else can see and fish.

That puts a lot of pressure on the bass and perch in the oxbow lakes.

The big plus is hunting seasons will soon open. That will give the lakes some relief but not as much as it used to. Over the years, more and more anglers have realized that summer is the worse time to fish and the cooler months are the best time to go.

Twenty-five to 30 years ago you could fish all weekend and rarely see another boat during the fall and winter. Not anymore.

More people are taking up fishing and giving up hunting as the woods are being purchased for private use. I have not purchased a hunting license for deer or small game in more than thirty years.

The woods I grew up hunting are gone. It is farm ground now. That is when I quit hunting and went full time fishing year around.

I am really looking forward to the next five or six months. For now, your best bet to have a decent fishing trip is to try the Old Rivers. The Mississippi River continues to rise and fall and rise again which is a good thing for the live oxbow lakes, the Old Rivers.

I am still seeing some nice perch and bass come from the Old Rivers. The river stage at Natchez today is around 21.3 feet. If the predictions hold up, we should see a slight rise to about 22 feet by Wednesday followed by yet another fall.

That is great news for fishing the Old Rivers.


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