Summer in Mississippi isn’t supposed to be like this. We went from torrid, record-breaking heat in June to an almost immediate change to wet and mild in July.
Farmers certainly aren’t complaining, at least not in the southern two-thirds of the state, which has been hit by rainfall that ranges from intermittent showers to daily deluges, depending on the location.
But those smiling broadest are bass fishermen, who have found the frequent overcast skies providing not only relief from the heat but also an extremely good topwater bite that begins at sunrise and ends at sunset.
“I picked up a frog right after launching at dawn and fished it until we quit at 4 o’clock and the bite was consistent,” said Tony Rogers of Natchez, who caught about 25 bass with a partner earlier this week at Okhissa Lake in the Homochitto National Forest near Bude. “The only other bait I threw was a Senko worm that I only used when a bass would hit and miss the frog. I throw the worm in the exact spot, without a weight, and when it starts to fall, they’d kill it.”
Bass pro Pete Ponds of Madison wasn’t surprised to hear about the increased topwater bite. Not a bit.
“Anytime you see a cooler, overcast situation develop that lasts for a week in the middle of the summer, you’re gonna see a change in bass activity,” Ponds said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that surface temperatures have dropped 10 degrees (which on Barnett Reservoir they have, from 92 a week ago to 82 Thursday). You combine that cooler water with overcast skies and the fish will be out roaming, looking to eat.
“That’s why I think the new style of frogs you can walk like a dog, as you would a plug like a Spook, is a great choice. These are not only good in lakes with heavy vegetation like Barnett, but also good around lakes with hard structure like the logs and trees at Okhissa. You walk a soft plastic frog, like the (Mississippi-made) Scum Dog across open water in these kind of conditions and you’d be surprised at the number of hits you get.”
In other news this week around Mississippi, a good bream bite was reported at several lakes operated by the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. All reports involved catching suspended post-spawn bream. Tippah County Lake near Ripley, Kemper County Lake near DeKalb, Lake Mike Connor near Collins and Lake Perry near Beaumont all produced bluegill suspended 4-5 feet deep in water about 8 feet deep near shallower bedding areas.
“We got about 40 at Kemper on crickets about 4 feet under corks in 8-10 feet of water,” said Riley Thomas of Meridian, who fished twice over the past week. “It was pretty steady and we had some fun.”
Crappie fishing has also been affected by the weather. Fish that were staying deep on the thermocline have moved up in the cooler water column.
“We switched from catching all our crappie trolling with Bandit 300s to catching them on 200s this week at Sardis,” said Phil Clark of Oxford. “We were still catching smaller fish on the 300s but we caught more keepers on the 200. Odd, huh?”
Reports from the Gulf Coast continue to be excellent for speckled trout and redfish, when the weather allows safe boating.
“The fish are there and biting and all we need is the opportunity to get at them,” said Sonny Schindler of Shore Thing Charters in Bay St. Louis.