Think it’s too hot to fish in July? Heck, the fishing’s too hot to not go, and here’s five of the best choices for the month.
1. Tripletail in Mississippi Sound: The hotter the weather, the better the fishing is for these great-tasting, hard-fighting and odd-looking fish.
Also known as blackfish, the tripletail gets its name from having dorsal and anal fins that sweep back and appear as a second and third tail. Their peculiar behavior of migrating to shallow water in the summer, the opposite of most saltwater fish, brings them close to the shore.
Another odd trait makes them perfect to fish “on the run” that provides a cooling break on a hot day. Tripletails love to hover on the surface near floating cover like crab trap pots, hoping to nab a passing meal, and fishermen can run a line of pots at high speed, keeping cool while looking for the dark fish around the pots.
2. Jug fishing for catfish on the Big Muddy: While certainly not limited to the Mississippi River, jugging for big catfish hits a peak on the river in July.
Juggers do best setting out their free-floating devices where the current carries them over shallow inside bends of the river, where plentiful channels and blues move up to feed.
Cut skipjack shad caught fresh on the river is the bait of choice. Many juggers combine a day of jugging with stops on the sandbars to tight-line for catfish or to look for schools of white or striped bass behind jetties.
3. Crappie fishing at Barnett Reservoir: While three North Mississippi Corps of Engineers lakes — Grenada, Enid and Sardis — get more attention for deep-water trolling with crankbaits, Barnett Reservoir offers both trolling and vertical jigging.
While summer trolling in the main lake is relatively new (the last five years) and productive at Barnett, jigging main-lake structure has always been the accepted way to fill an ice chest.
The lake is filled with standing timber around old oxbow lake beds, providing cover. And the relatively shallow lake has a well-defined thermocline that helps position fish at a specific depth, a thin layer of water that offers the most dissolved oxygen at a cooler temperature. That’s usually 11 to 12 feet, but it can vary from 10 to 14 feet. Once it has been determined, and the sun is up and it is hot, 90 percent of the fish in the lake will be at that depth.
4. Bass fishing at Pickwick Lake: This is another pattern that just gets better and better as the weather gets hotter and hotter. At Pickwick Lake in North Mississippi, the demand for electrical power to run air conditioners in the Tennessee Valley dictates that the turbines be generating at the Pickwick Dam, creating current that increases bass feeding activity.
Finding humps rising to 12 to 15 feet surrounded by deeper water (25 to 50 feet) near the main channel is one pattern. Another is finding submerged grass beds. Both can produce a big largemouth, while the deep humps hold smallmouth, too.
5. White bass at Lake Ferguson: This old Mississippi River oxbow lake at Greenville produces a lot of summer schooling action for white bass, where catches of 100 or more a day is possible. There is no limit on white bass in Mississippi, therefore the fun is also unlimited.
Crankbaits like a chrome Bandit 200 or a tail-spinner is all you need once you find white bass feeding on a sandbar or gravel bed.
If the lake isn’t producing, make a run out into the river and look for any eddy currents around cuts and sandbars, or find jetties with tops near the river level and concentrate around any breaks where water if flowing over or through the rocks.