Fishing ReportTunica Cutoff - 12/4/2018 3:00:02 PM
Late fall/winter fishing report. Weekly updates will resume in February.
With the weir, the Mississippi River will not enter the Cutoff until it rises above 6 ft (Memphis gauge). Flood stage is 34 ft. Best fishing is usually on a slow fall from 15 to 10 ft. For the river level and 5 day forecast, call (901)544-0408 (press 2) or check https://forecast.weather.gov/product.php?site=NWS&issuedby=ORN&product=RVA&format=txt&version=1&glossary=0
Charlie's Camp and Bordeaux (Tait) ramps are the only ones open to the public. Use the honor boxes. Bait is now available across the levee.
Tunica went into the winter with high river levels. If the river does not come down this fall and winter, spring may bring flooding. Winter fishing on the Cutoff can be good since the fish often school tightly. Fish bite better after a few warm, sunny days. Unlike summer, best bet is to fish midday on steep, sunny banks near deeper water. Check water level trends; except for catfish, fishing is usually better on a slow fall than a fast rise. Even in cold weather, catfish will feed in rainfall runoff. If the water is rising, fish shallower on the inside edges of cover. If the water is falling, fish deeper on the outside edges. Move stationary gear (lines, yo-yos, etc.) frequently if the water is rising or falling quickly.
Best winter fishing here is for crappie or White Bass ("stripes"). For crappie, troll or drift in the main lake, or jig in any cover (trees, planted brush tops, etc.) with a jig and/or minnow. Yo-yo's also work. For White Bass, fish jigs or small crankbaits on or near the ramps, the runout, or off sandy points. There is no size or number limit on White Bass. However, with the lake connected to the river, you might land a Striped Bass or hybrid, both of which have to be over 15 inches long with a daily limit of 6 fish per person. The best way to tell these fish apart is by their stripes. White Bass have 1 stripe running to the tail; stripers and hybrids have 2 or more stripes running to the tail. For Largemouth Bass, fish soft plastics or a jig-n-pig around cover on steep, sandy banks. Best luck for winter bream is with waxworms or redworms fished around cover near bottom. For catfish, fish trotlines or yo-yo's on mudflats, but rod-and-reel action will be better in the runout using various natural baits.
In August, 2018, there was an Asian carp kill on Tunica Cutoff, other Mississippi River oxbows, and in the river itself. These kills have been occurring almost every year in late summer. Investigation of previous kills revealed bacteria as the cause. Time will tell if there will be any effects on the carp or other fish.
Memphis District Corps personnel allow placement of artificial fish habitat. This is a good time to sweeten your favorite spots; remember to save GPS waypoints if you have the capability.
Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Fisheries Biologists use various sampling methods to assess the fish populations in the State’s waters. Sampling results for selected water bodies are summarized in Reel Facts Sheets.