Tales of the old fishing adventures

Published 12:01 am Sunday, October 26, 2014

It looks like the Mississippi River may give us one more shot at fishing the Old Rivers for bass and perch before we get a late November rise.

At 56 years old, I feel more like a 76-year-old fishing veteran when it comes to the “live” and landlocked oxbow lakes. I think I was about 16-years-old when my Uncle Burl took me on my first fishing trip to the old river bend lake we call Deer Park.

The Old Rivers look nothing like they used to. Of course, these waters were part of the Mississippi River until it changed course, leaving behind 2,000-3,000 acre oxbow lakes that fluctuate with the rise and fall of the big river. Of course, the acreage is determined by the level of the big river. Back then, the points, bluff banks and underwater break lines along the structure were so much more defined. Many have the term structure all wrong. That underwater brush pile you fish along a ledge on Lake Bruin, or wherever, is not the structure, it is a break line along the structure. The structure is actually the ledge itself, and anything that breaks the definition of the ledge is a break line like a brush pile.

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All serious anglers should read the late Buck Perry’s writings on bass and structure. Perry is known as the founder of off-shore bass fishing with his famous spoon plugs. I sort of beg to differ because I was raised by a structure fisherman. Dad had my brother and I fishing offshore in our birthplace of Arkansas on Greer’s Ferry Lake in the 1960s. We trolled from a true “V” bottom skiff with no trolling motor using a lure that dove so deep and put such a hard bend in your rod the lure is called a Hellbender. We caught bass, walleye and huge slab crappie. Yes, they are called crappie up there, white perch here and sac-a-lait just to the south of us. Dad called them “paper mouths” simply because the skin around their mouth was paper thin, and you could not hoist a 2 pound paper mouth over the side without it coming unglued from the hook. The hooks would rip out.

I recall vividly one trip on Greer’s Ferry when mom boated an 8-pound walleye which is one of the finest table fare fish you can catch. Mom said she changed many diapers in the bottom of that old skiff. My brother and I were raised by a fishing family, which is a priceless gift. Like gypsies, we began moving south, farming the Ouachita River Delta above West Monroe in the late 1960s and early 1970s for a couple years growing what was once called “yellow gold,” soybeans.

That second year (I think) we got flooded out. We heard of better, richer ground in a place called Concordia Parish. So, like the gypsy sharecroppers we were, we loaded up all the equipment, dogs and trucks, and migrated to here where we stayed. Soybean prices bottomed out, and we lost my dad. We farmed a couple more years, quit and I went into the fishing tackle business, then boats sales. During all those years, I fished ever body of water in this area from the barrow pits, live oxbows and landlocked oxbow lakes. Fifty to 100 bass a day was not uncommon. I still say we could see the great fishing of those three decades return if we could get the moss beds back in our landlocked lakes. The Old Rivers are going to rebound as well.

Fishing has not been that great since the record flood of 2011. This year, we are seeing a lot of small bass and perch, so I forecast a rebound, a comeback on the Old Rivers in the next two to three years.



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