Roberts offers friendly advice to locals on the water

Published 12:05 am Sunday, June 14, 2015

Lifetime Concordia Parish fisherman Eddie Roberts shares his fishing wisdom from 40 years of fishing in local lakes and rivers. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Lifetime Concordia Parish fisherman Eddie Roberts shares his fishing wisdom from 40 years of fishing in local lakes and rivers. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

VIDALIA — As the summer months come into full swing, the waters of the Miss-Lou will become more and more crowded with people trying their best to bring in a trophy fish.

But reeling in the monster catch isn’t as easy as it seems. Whether it be catfish, bass or brim, Miss-Lou waters offer a unique opportunity and challenge for anglers in their search for gold.

“This area is very unique with the Mississippi River, live oxbows and dead oxbows,” said Vidalia fisherman Eddie Roberts. “We kind of migrate from one to another.”

Roberts, who has fished the Miss-Lou for years, said catfishing is most likely the best way to start.

“Catfishing is huge in this area with us having the biggest river in the U.S. and the tributaries,” he said.

Roberts also said getting set up to fish for catfish is also the most simple.

“It is not as complicated compared to bass, which people make more complex,” he said. “You just need a decent rod and reel, a 20-25 pound line and a $4 hook. Then get some live bait like skipjack or goldfish and kick back under a shady tree and cast. Or you can go and fish the rock jetties.”

Roberts said the Mississippi River is the best place for the fish, but also poses the biggest threat.

“If you are on the Mississippi River, you better have a good boat and your life jacket because the river is nothing for an amateur to fool with,” he said. “Sadly, I’ve seen people go out there that shouldn’t have and not come back. About annually, we lose somebody. You just have to have river knowledge.”

Another piece of knowledge Roberts said was key is knowing where the fish are and when.

“It is all about location,” he said. “You aren’t going to catch what isn’t there. You’re going to fish your brains out, but you have to be in the right spot. Learning the area takes experience and time on the water.”

Another popular target in the area is bass, which Roberts said can drive any angler crazy.

However, his biggest rule is perhaps the simplest.

“The oldest rule in the book when bass fishing is be quiet,” he said. “You can talk all you want and as loud as you want, but don’t thump the boat. Sound carries. That is one of my oldest rules in the book.”

Roberts said bass fishing in the Miss-Lou is on the decline, but there is a chance it could come back.

“Ten pounders used to be common, but these days, six and seven pounders are considered big fish,” he said. “I fished a tournament on Lake St. John and won with a big fish of five pounds, and won the whole tournament with a total of 15.94 with five fish. That is a good stringer these days. But that used to place at the bottom, and now it wins. Fishing has kind of tapered off, might come back, might not. The population is down and there are so many variables and factors that contribute to that.”

Ultimately though, the only way to find out is to hit the water and try.