The hot summer weather got you down? Well, why not cool off with some bass on the rocks — Red River south style.
“Man, I’m telling you, this is a great time to catch bass on the Red River, but you have to go early and you have to fish the rocks. Rock jetties, rock levees or rock banks, that’s where you’ll find them,” said veteran river fisherman Jerry Mitchell.
Mitchell lives in Alexandria and fishes all around his home area, including Toledo Bend, but when the summer fishing gets hot on the Red, he’s right there with them.
“The main cover, really the only cover, we’ve got left in the river for this time of the year now is the rocks,” he said. “There’s not any grass left, and while there is a lot of hard structure left out in some of the river lakes, most of the bass head to the deeper water this time of year.
“They’ll stack up in the deeper water off the rocks along the river channel, then follow schools of shad up and down the rock banks and ledges.”
His early baits of choice include several topwaters, including the Chug bug, small Spook and Yellow Magic in chrome with black back and shad color. When the fish quit schooling or chasing shad, he backs off into the deeper water off the rocks with a KVD or Bandit crankbait in bream or parrot color. He tosses the bait parallel to the rocks and gets the lure down 8 to 10 feet, and the bass nail it.
“When it’s hot, especially early, the are pretty aggressive,” he said. “The best bite is in the morning. You can still catch them later, but early is better. There’s no question.”
With rocks up and down a good portion of the river to the south, Mitchell said picking the right stretch is important. He likes to fish the inside bend of the river where the current is strongest. If there is no current, he gets on the outside bends where the water is deeper — up to 15 to 18 feet. The key is holding close to the rocks.
There’s a good little fishing bonus this time of year, too. The Red is chocked full of white bass, or as they are more commonly called, oarfish. They frequent the same spots and often school later than the largemouths, and the same lures work on either fish.
The Red River has several great launching areas such as Montgomery, Red Bayou and St. Maurice.