Softly trickling over the exposed roots of a tree, a small stream of clear spring water was spilling into the calm dark waters of Lake Chotard.
It was a pretty spot, with lush greenery in the background, with the lake’s surface adding a blue hue from a perfectly clear November sky.
Yet, that vision was not what got my fishing partner’s attention.
“If I was a bass, that’s where I'd be,” Sidney Montgomery said during an outing Thursday. “That fresh water coming in, and the roots of the tree to hide in, it’s perfect.”
Montgomery flipped a 7-inch black and blue lizard into the spot, dragging it off the roots in the middle of the spring’s path. It slid silently into the darker water, leaving a few concentric rings spreading across the surface, adding to the setting.
It was serene, until the water boiled abruptly.
Below the surface, a big largemouth bass had inhaled the lure. Montgomery set the hook and quickly boated a chunky, dark 2-pound bass.
“Like I said, perfect,” he said, easing the bass back into the lake and watching it swim directly back to the foot of the spring.
Fishing in areas where springs run into oxbow lakes is a time-proven pattern in the fall, when lake water temperatures are still warm. Our day was a prime example.
Despite a few days of cooler weather (it was a pleasant 53 degrees when we launched), surface temperatures had started falling. It was noticeably cooler around the springs.
Springs are common along rivers and river-formed lakes in Mississippi, like the connected Mississippi River oxbow lakes Chotard and Albermarle north of Vicksburg. In the right fall conditions, with water temperatures just starting to fall, all the fishing activity on a high-pressure day can be concentrated around springs.
That’s right, all of it.
Trotlines could be seen strung from nearby trees.
Even crappie were on the “spring” pattern. Some crappie fishermen were fishing deep brush in 8-10 feet of water, others were working shallow cover in 2-4 feet. All of them were on two stretches of banks, one each in Chotard and Albermarle, where several springs were located.
The bass pattern held true throughout the morning, with lizards and single-bladed 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits the lethal weapons. Not every spring held fish, but those with some kind of fishable cover on the bank did.
Spotting springs is easy. The sun usually glistens off the water, or the ground or roots of nearby trees will be discolored — usually a rusty tint — by the minerals in the spring water. Locate such a spot that proves cover, like bushes or downed tree ops or stumps, and it’s perfect.
“On a day like today with the high sky and the high pressure, fishing would have been tough without the springs holding fish,” Montgomery said.
Call it fall bass on a spring pattern. It works.