Page 55 - South Mississippi Living - November, 2022
P. 55

   LEFT: Kendra Maness compares a bass she caught to a flounder caught by Jeff Bruhl while fishing the marshes of the Pearl River delta. RIGHT: In tidal waters like river deltas, anglers can catch salty and freshwater species at the same time in the same place. From left to right, a channel catfish, blue catfish, redfish, largemouth bass, speckled trout and a sheepshead.
In the fall, some of the best fishing occurs in rivers. Traditionally, rivers drop to their lowest and clearest water levels in the fall, concentrating fish in main channels.
South Mississippi anglers can choose from several streams that produce abundant bass. Pearl River flows out
of Winston County and meanders 490 miles to Lake Borgne, really a bay off the Gulf of Mexico. For 119 miles, the river forms the border between Louisiana and Mississippi.
The Pascagoula River runs about 80 miles through southeastern Mississippi. It drains about 9,700 square miles before hitting Mississippi Sound near the town of Pascagoula. The Escatawpa River empties into the lower Pascagoula.
“The Pascagoula River is really great for bass numbers, especially in the fall when the temperature gets a little cooler,” advised Stephen Brown, a Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks biologist in Hattiesburg. “Typically, the tributaries hold clearer water. That’s usually where people find the bass. The Escatawpa River is another good place
to look for bass. It has some really good spotted bass as well as largemouth.”
In South Mississippi, anglers might also fish the Jourdan, Wolf, Biloxi or Tchouta- cabouffa rivers and several smaller streams. All of these streams hold abun- dant largemouth bass in the 1- to 3-pound range with some in the 4- to 7-pound range and occasional larger ones.
As weather cools, many anglers enjoy the thrill of fishing with floating baits. A large bass exploding on a topwater lure can cause an adrenaline rush. Anything mim- icking a crippled baitfish could work.
River anglers generally follow shorelines throwing lures at fallen trees, cypress knees, stumps, weed beds and other struc- tures. Finding the right cover often means locating “sweet spots” that produce the most bass.
“A sweet spot is just something differ- ent,” explained Bill Dance, a legendary professional angler and television person- ality. “It could be a change in the bottom composition. It could be one object with
Keith Lott shows off a bass he caught on a spinnerbait while fishing a river system backwater on a cold day. Smaller tributaries often offer the best fishing in many rivers.
algae growing on it that attracts minnows. Little subtle changes could produce big results. Any type of transition could be a key spot.”
In marshy river deltas, anglers often catch a variety of fresh and saltwater species depending upon the salinity levels. Largemouth bass can handle some salin- ity. Redfish can live in pure fresh water, but they can’t reproduce in fresh water. Flounder sometimes show up in coastal rivers many miles north of Mississippi Sound. Anglers commonly catch bass, redfish, flounder, and possibly speckled trout in the same places with the same baits at the same time.
Where fresh river water mixes with salty water coming up from the Gulf of Mexi- co, both marine and freshwater predators feed upon a smorgasbord of prey from each world. Larger predators like bass and redfish regularly eat bluegills, min- nows, shad, pogies, crabs, shrimp, mullets, and many other species. A falling tide pulls bass and baitfish from the tributaries into the main channels. Bass, redfish, and other species frequently lurk at the mouth of small tributaries waiting for the tide to bring them something to eat.
Bass that live in tidal systems seldom reach gigantic proportions like their cousins might in a place like Ross Barnett Reservoir, but they make up for it with their aggressive, pugnacious nature. Even small bass used to fighting currents and tides can put up a sporting fight on light tackle!
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