Fishing tips for current water depth

Published 12:03 am Sunday, September 6, 2015

A very slow fall continues to come down the Mississippi River.

The stage in Natchez/Vidalia area should be around 21.1 feet today and predicted to be 20.5 feet by this coming Thursday. I wish a slight rise would come downriver and put some fresher, cooler river water back over the stumps, logs and other cover that is just about on dry ground right now for the fish to hold on. A stage of this level means there is very little visible cover on the live oxbow lakes, the Old Rivers at Vidalia, Deer Park and Yucatan. It is sonar time.

A good guess is 80 to 90 percent of the game fish are not in the shallows. The fish are offshore eating shad. For the most part, no one bothers these fish specifically the bass.

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There is a growing group of white perch anglers that drift fish offshore using sonar to locate bait fish and game fish. They catch a lot of perch using sonar and rigging multiple jig poles with three to four jigs on each line when the shallow water bite is off. Some perch anglers will put out four to five poles in pole holders off the bow of the boat and four or five off the stern. That means you can have at least 40 lures and/or minnows in the water at one time.

It sounds crazy, but it is the best way to catch white perch suspended over deep water. I don’t use this method simply because I don’t get to fish for white perch very often, but I do know the guys and ladies that drift fish. My boat is not set up for drift fishing. I do fish deep and offshore for bass a lot.

Deep water fishing is my preference which was inherited from my dad. With the exception of the spawning months, dad considered 15 feet to be shallow. We stayed in the 25- to 45-foot depths more than any other water depth. So I was taught deep water fishing with sonar at a very young age, thank goodness. That is the opposite of how most people started fishing. For bass on the Old Rivers move off the banks once you run out of visible logs and stumps.

Right now, at this river level, you can put the big deep diving hard pulling wrist breaking crank baits down in favor of cranks that will get down to about 10 to 12 feet or so, and have another lure to cover the 5- to 8-foot range, and yet another for the real shallow stuff like a Bandit 100.

If you know where some brush piles, logs, rocks, steep drops or whatever are located, try heavy jigs and jigging spoons to catch the bass. Most of the white perch have already moved offshore on the Old River lakes. You may pick up one here and there in thin water but to find the big slabs, look offshore with sonar.

Find shad that look like huge ball shapes on your sonar screen. When shad ball up tight, there something feeding on them. If the shad are in a loose school there is probably nothing messing with them at that time, but check on those shad again later in the day. Air temperatures so continue to top out in the mid 90s, which is keeping the surface water temperature above 90.

I do not like hot water fishing. I am so glad August is out of here and September is clicking on by. Good things will happen as soon as the nights get cooler, and the days get shorter.

Not only will the Old Rivers produce more and larger fish when it cools down, the landlocked lakes will turn on as well. October is a great month, a transition month. I think everyone is ready for cooler weather.

I know I am. It will feel great to fish, catch and not sweat.


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