Fishing a big mystery in 2014

Published 12:01 am Sunday, November 16, 2014

This has been, and continues to be, the most unpredictable year in the fishing scene I have ever witnessed.

The Mississippi River held at higher stage than normal all summer then recently dropping to 15 feet and back up to 35 feet and now down to 19 feet and holding steady.

The big river kept the live oxbow lakes, the Old Rivers, fluctuating practically daily. Back in all the years we farmed, we would have the crops out of the fields by now. I would be on the water every day. I recall fishing Deer Park with a friend for 18 straight days back in the 1980s. It was amazing the numbers of fish we caught that fall. One day, we had 15 bass over five pounds. Jump 28 years ahead to present day, and you are lucky to catch one five-pound bass in a full day of fishing.

I still stand behind my theory that the Old Rivers will rebound. The record flood of 2011 is when things started going downhill. All that polluted water from the flooding of West Memphis and the rest of the nasty flood waters filled the river bend lakes. With the flood waters came the invasive silver carp that stirred up the water and really messed up our fishing.

The good news is we are seeing few sliver carp this fall. The mutant fish cannot tolerate water temperatures above 90 degrees for long. Last summer, the Old River’s surface water temp topped out at a hot 94 degrees for at least three weeks. That created a huge fish kill that consisted 100 percent of silver carp. That was great news. This year, the water did not get that hot, but I did see several dead silver carp. These mutant fish freak out when the noise on an outboard motor passes over. They can jump as high as 15 feet in the air and weigh as much as 30 or 40 pounds. I had some carp nearly knock me out, and other people had ribs broke, noses busted, broke boat windshields and such. The sliver carp is a danger to us, and hopefully ,the Southern population will continue to diminish.

The other culprit that we can do nothing about is the silt in the Old Rivers. Back in the 1970s, we had bluff banks, points, underwater ledges that offered a fast drop, and a place for the bass and perch to escape cold fronts, as well as rising and falling waters. We lost most all the points and bluffs to silt. They washed away as the Mississippi River flooded the Old Rivers annually. I saw some great signs this year of a rebound coming. There are a lot of small bass and white perch in the Old Rivers, which means the game fish had a successful spawn. These waters receive no stock fish, and government agencies do nothing to these waters so they pretty much take care of themselves.

We need government help with our Concordia Parish landlocked lakes. There is some sort of Florida bass stocking program going on, but I believe the only lake close by that received any stock fish this year was Lake Bruin. Information on this program is vague, but I will continue to research. The only answer to getting our lakes back in shape is stock fish and the retune of coontail moss, a native aquatic vegetation. Lakes with moss have huge populations of game fish. Lakes without moss do not. Hopefully, the moss will return, and we will get some stock fish in the near future.

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