Catfish anglers don’t have to wait on drop

Published 12:02 am Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Mississippi River dropped from approximately 48 feet to today’s level of about 39.3 feet.

According to the predictions, the fall will stop today and a slight rise will come downriver. The prediction today calls for a possible crest around 41 to maybe 42 feet late this coming week. That is a good thing. We were hoping to see a level around 38 feet this weekend, which is a good stage for the bream, bass, white bass and striped bass on the live oxbow lakes. We missed that by a foot and some change. So once again, we are waiting for the river stage at Natchez/Vidalia to drop to 38 feet or lower.

If the predictions pan out, we won’t see that level for about two weeks. The river is so unpredictable from year to year over the past decade. We used to just about know when the Old Rivers would be at a decent level for fishing. Not anymore. There are so many tributary rivers and reservoirs up north that it is impossible to know when they will turn the water loose which has to come our way.

The catfish anglers don’t have to wait. High water and fluctuating water is good for catfishing. That’s what is going on this past week and will continue this coming week. On the landlocked lakes , I am seeing a lot of big flat heads. Lakes Concordia, St. John and Bruin are producing some huge catfish, but the big fish are not being caught using conventional methods. I call it “noodling,”while some call it “hand grabbing.” It’s pretty simple. You don’t need a rod, reel, line, hooks, any lures,and in some cases, you don’t even need a boat. Just jump in the water anywhere from 3- to about 8-feet deep, locate an old hollow log, a hollow cypress trees, a boat ramp that has wash outs along the edges and stick your hand in the hole. If something bites you but does not bite too hard there is catfish on a bed laying her eggs or a male catfish protecting the bed.

The visibility on our area lakes is about 2 feet on a good day and 6 inches if the water is stained so you are doing this blind. Lake Bruin and Black River lake offer better visibility if it has not rained in a while. Hand grabbing produces big catfish, but it is the smaller catfish that make better table fare. On the lakes, just hang some yo-yos, limb lines or string out a trotline and bait it with skipjack, goldfish or minnows. Minnows don’t last long, but you may catch a few white perch to go with your catfish meal.

Please do us all a favor and remove your lines when you get through fishing. In late summer my son and I used to have a cleanup day on Lake Concordia. We would remove old limb lines, yo-yos and other lines left by careless people. I am taking hundreds of lines. Many times we have removed herons and other birds caught in these lines. That is not good so people need to take their lines home when they are through fishing.

Pleasure boat season is wide open. Our lakes are crowded with pleasure boats and fishing boats. Please practice safe boats and wear your PFD. They are called life jackets for a reason.

 

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