With Mississippi River falling, bass, speckled trout action should continue to improve _lowres

Photo provided by Seigo Saito/B.A.S.S. Greg Hackney of Gonzales holds the trophy after winning the GEICO Bassmaster BASSfest at Lake Texoma out of Durant, Okla., last Sunday. Hackney’s four-day total was 66 pounds, 2 ounces.

There’s lots for south Louisiana bass fishermen to celebrate on this Father’s Day, not the least of which that the Father of Water, the Mississippi River, finally is falling — giving hundreds, if not thousands, more miles of fishable banks to chase ol’ Mr. Largemouth.

While still relatively high for late June, projections are the Mississippi River will be at the 18.9-foot level on the Baton Rouge gauge and at 6.9 feet at New Orleans come July 13 to open the runs, canals and ponds in the Venice area to top-shelf bass action.

The river’s reduced flow also means speckled trout will move closer to the river in the coming weeks. Action on trout has been near zero, especially in waters east of the river in the Venice area.

Better yet is that water levels in the vast Atchafalaya Basin are hovering near the 4-foot mark on the Morgan City gauge, opening the door on bass, bluegill, chinquapin and sac-a-lait from Flat Lake north into the upper Bayou Sorrel waters.

The usual tactic is to work run-outs in the back ends of canals and sloughs draining the swamps and running into bayous.

What’s unusual, and maybe the most fun a bass fisherman can have, is that the past week’s action has come on frogs in the run-outs and sloughs. It’s been frogs only, because the reports indicate no other topwater plugs are working. Crawfish imitations also are working.

There have been a few reports on panfish. Crickets are working along the still-flooded tree lines, and it appears sac-a-lait are laying on the flooded sides of the trees, yes, between the banks and the trees. Sac-a-lait catches will improve when the water recedes to put the deepest water in front of the cypresses and near-the-bank brushtops.

And there’s another south Louisiana angler celebrating today.

Greg Hackney toyed with first place in last weekend’s BASSFest on Lake Texoma in Oklahoma, before he came in with a fourth and final-day 17-pound, 15-ounce catch to take home $100,000 for his fifth B.A.S.S. win with a total catch of 66-2.

Hackney, who calls Gonzales home, said it was equally important for him to increase his lead in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, a title he won in 2014. B.A.S.S.’ Elite Series field is heading to Cayuga in New York, where Hackney won to wrap up his 2014 title. Now more than 15 years ago, Hackney came close to taking the AOY title in his first season on the B.A.S.S. tour, but finished an agonizing one point shy of that goal.

Going to New York, and with three more events, Hackney leads Alabama veteran Gerald Swindle in points 572-542.

And, by the way, the win gave him a spot in the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic set for Lake Conroe with weigh-ins set for Minute Maid Park in Houston.

His final-day catch on Texoma, which he said came on a one-ounce Strike King Hack Attack jig, jumped him from third place to a near 2-pound edge over Brandon Card.

Hackney told B.A.S.S. reporter Mike Suchan that he was “very proud of those fish.

“The other thing is, nobody gained any points on me. That’s a big deal. That’s what’s been driving me this week.

“Leading angler of the year coming into this, I’ve been thinking about it,” Hackney said. “I didn’t think about it today. Today I focused on the tournament ... it’s what keeps me going.

“You can’t let anybody get closer. You got to keep going. And I was blessed.”