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Lake life

Yucatan: Late summer fishing bonus

For the most part, fishing is tough right now. There are still fish biting in a few places, but they aren’t exactly jumping in the boat. The summer heat is taking a toll on fishermen and the fish. And now there’s a hurricane coming this way in a few days! But there is one exception in our area. Yucatan Lake in Tensas is a late summer fishing bonus that is just getting right. In fact, it would be fair to say that August is “springtime” on the Yucatan.

Located near Newellton, the lake is about 2,400 acres at pool stage and much larger when spread out into the flooded woods. Right now, the water is slowly receding out of the woods and the slow fall has turned on the crappie, catfish and bass. If you want to keep up with what’s going on there, check out the Yucatan Landing Facebook page. It’s public, so anybody can view it.

“I just love this place,” says Juanita Lachney, a retired Franklin Parish teacher. “Perry and I just celebrated our 57th wedding anniversary and we’ve loved this place our whole lives. It never gets old. In fact, we spent our honeymoon right here.”

Today she doesn’t get to fish much while minding the store, which is owned by her son, Gene, who is on active duty with the Army. But when she does, she knows exactly what to do.

That slow fall began this month and when the river level at nearby Vicksburg hit 19 feet, the fishing is at its best. The main target here is slab white perch. Everybody else may call them crappie, but on the Yucatan, they are still white perch.

“Oh my goodness, you should see some of the slabs they are already catching right now,” she said. “The water is coming out of the woods and the fishermen are catching big white perch right along the woods line where the water is a little bit cooler.”

The prime spot to fish for white perch, or crappie, she says, is around the ironwood bushes and the willow trees. Because the water is on a slow fall this time of year, fish will often move a little to find their comfort zone, but once you find them, you can “mop up” as she says.

“We are seeing some of the biggest ones we’ve ever seen this year and they are big healthy fish,” Lachney, says. “A lot of places fish aren’t that healthy in the late summer, but Yucatan is like no other oxbow.”

The best way to catch crappie is usually to fish with a hair jig and be ready to offer up different colors because what they bit yesterday, they might not want today, she says. One day it may be black and chartreuse. The next day it may be pink with a red head. And if they don’t hit jigs, try a live shiner and if you don’t get them that way, there’s one sure-fire bait for Yucatan success. Just fish a jig with a shiner attached and “it will get them every time”, she says. A good depth to depend on for crappie is about six to seven feet. They seem to like that depth of water.

The Yucatan will remain good until the river level reaches about nine foot and flow to the river through the “chute” stops. If you are looking for a little something different, give it a shot. Don’t be surprised if you find a crowd, though. As she says: “Y’all get up out of that recliner and grab a boat seat. Come on and enjoy a day on the Yucatan,” “Now’s the time”.

When the river does this, Yucatan catches fire!

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