Take caution of storms in fishing boat

Published 12:05 am Sunday, June 28, 2015

Despite the heat, humidity and high lake water temperature, June was not that bad for catching fish.

Of course, with yet another unseasonal rise coming downriver, we are still limited to fishing the landlocked lakes. The live oxbows on the east side of the levee are flooded. It is the same old summer pattern for the bass this month that will last all the way through August. You need to be on the water before sunrise to catch the best bite.

If you are fortunate to be able to fish when you want to, choose the cloudy, overcast days. My best summer catches occurred before, during and just after a summer rain. Like I mentioned many times, these summer thunderstorms will trigger lightening, so be aware when you hear thunder in the distance. Make plans well in advance to duck out under a pier or load up until the storm passes. Boats, fishing rods, water and lightening are a dangerous mix. It is certainly not worth the risk of getting struck by lightning. I have witnessed what the aftermath of a fishing boat looks like that was struck by lightning. It hit the unfortunate angler’s rod and blew it up and almost killed him and his partner. That was about 20 years ago. He still suffers from various health problems due to the lightening strike.

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If I hear thunder, I immediately grab my cell phone and look at the radar to determine where the storm is at and which direction it is moving. If it is heading toward the lake I am fishing, I make plans well in advance on the safest action to take. Once the storm passes, and there is no danger from lightening, that is when the fish will feed. I would much rather fish during a rain than not when the air temperature is 95-plus degrees, no wind and the surface water temp is 90-plus degrees. Just a cool down in water temperature of a few degrees along with low barometric pressure will turn the fish on big time.

Personally, when confronted with a cloud-free and wind-free summer day on a still water lake, I just fish the early morning hours and load up by noon if I’m not competing in a bass tournament. There is nothing fun about standing in boat when the air temp hits 95-plus and there is no wind. It is even worse when you are just fishing but not catching. The crazy river situation seals the tag on the Mississippi River as being unpredictable. An unseasonal and very slow rise came downriver just before Tropical Storm Bill made landfall in Texas.

The remains of Bill traveled north to Oklahoma before cutting back east. The rain hung out in the middle Mississippi River valley and didn’t move. That runoff was added to the already slow rise we have now.

Today, the river stage at Natchez should be around 46.9 to 47 feet and rising. The prediction charts keep changing the crest date but not the crest level. After the third change in about a week, the predicted crest date is now July 14 at 50 feet. On an average, thinking back of the 40-plus years I have fished the live oxbow lakes off the Mississippi River, 50 feet is about 25 feet higher than where we should be.

So once again, the roads leading to Old River’s ramps, camps and homes are flooded right now. My friends live there wake up in the morning, climb down the steps that lead up to the elevated homes, step in a boat and head toward the levee where their vehicle is parked. That is life on the Old River. I could live that life, but “her.” my wife, not so much. I just laughed out loud thinking about her kicking a big old fish snake off the porch and shooing the alligators away to get to a boat and go to work every day.

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