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December 8, 2013
Some will argue that the only purpose for August in Mississippi as the month relates to outdoor activities is to fill the space between July and September. There is an element of truth in such thinking. To make the point, look at some familiar outdoor pursuits that fit quite well into a host of other months.
Tent camping: Miserable and sweltering in August.
Hunting: Not available.
Hiking: Tolerable if done early in the morning or on rare occasions, late in the afternoon. But a full day of it in August is just about more fun than most folks are allowed to have!
Biking: See hiking. The list goes on.
The reader will note, however, that fishing was not included in the above. That is because it is an exception. August is the month when one unique fishing experience begins to blossom. Specifically, this is fishing for bass on low-water creeks and rivers. Let’s break this activity down into various parts and see what ingredients are required for some outstanding summer fishing across the state.
August streams are traditionally low. Heavy rains can change this, but such rains are rare. And if they come and don’t stay for long periods, the streams will reform quickly and become productive again almost overnight. What we are looking for are shallow runs broken by deeper holes in bends and spots where the water runs through log jams and downed timber. There the bass will be.
Anglers visiting most Mississippi streams will encounter two types of bass: the largemouth and the Kentucky, also called spotted bass or redeyes. The latter is not generally as hefty as its largemouth cousins, but what it lacks in size is made up for in spunk.
There is, however, one major glitch facing most anglers who want to do this low-water fishing. And that glitch is the low water itself, that perfect condition for finding and locating stream bass. This always creates an access problem. Even where there is public access, seldom will anglers be able to put a motor boat in and navigate up or down stream. That leaves only the canoe or kayak as a viable craft to use at public-access points in an effort to move about the stream. But regardless of what you must do to get to the streams, the effort will likely be rewarded.
Early mornings and late afternoons are generally the best times to fish, but bass will often bite all day. Slower at some times and enhanced at others, but all day just the same. Of course, the sun will be high and pouring down into otherwise shaded streams at midday, and this can be uncomfortable. But if you choose to brave the heat, fish at any point in the day you want. If I were forced to select one time, that would be late afternoons just when the sun begins to cast long shadows across the water.
Where and how to catch bass are twins and can be isolated into a very few likely spots and methods. One spot is where shallow, relatively fast water rushes over a sandbar and drops into a dark spot just below that sandbar. How? Cast so that the lure runs parallel to that sandbar and let that lure cover the entire length about a foot or so into the current where the water is deep enough to be dark. A Kentucky bass will probably be hanging around there.
Another good spot is along a steep bank on the offside of a bend. And like that sandbar regimen, fish the length of the bend, not from the middle of the stream and across. That latter approach allows the angler to prospect only a tiny portion of the bank, where a lengthwise tactic covers practically all of it.
Log jams can be good. If the water is pouring through/over these, fish the bottom side. And cast so that the lure runs the length of the logs. This will often be from the bank back toward the middle. Submerged jams, their skeletal fingers the only things giving evidence of the jams, can be good. Fish them thoroughly. And if the path of a single log can be determined, fish its length, even if it is in shallow water. Bass will hold in surprisingly nondescript places.
Tackle for this fishing is fairly basic. Spinning and/or casting reels on a good rod will work fine. Do, however, keep it all sturdy. Excessive strength is not required, but some backbone will be needed to coax bass from the tangles. This is not a game for ultralights. Line in the 14-pound class is in order.
Lures? Spinnerbaits get the nod from most anglers, and they are hard to beat. The simple white-skirted H&H will work perfectly. And take plenty. You are going to break off and lose more than you can imagine, for if you are not fishing the tangles and rough spots, you are not fishing for stream bass in August.
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