Top 10 Places to Fish in Northern Louisiana

http://www.shreveporttimes.com/story/sports/outdoors/2015/06/29/top-places-fish-north-louisiana/29494257/

Top 10 Places to Fish in Northern Louisiana

Jimmy Watson, Shreveport Times

North Louisiana is blessed with a multitude of fisheries offering a plethora of opportunities for anyone wishing to try one on for size.

And the thing about top fishing holes is that everyone thinks theirs is the best. If one is located in your backyard, and you fish it regularly, doubtless it is the best for you. Picking the top 10 best fisheries in North Louisiana was no easy task, but talking with anglers throughout the area made the job easier.

The criteria was simple: the fishery had to be at least partly located within the borders of the state and generally north of Alexandria from the Mississippi state line to the Texas state line. In case you haven't noticed there are hundreds of ponds, lakes, rivers and streams that fall within those boundaries.

The task of choosing the best of the best was simplified by Bassmaster's release last week of the Top 100 lakes in the country. Since Toledo Bend Reservoir made Bassmaster's list at No. 1, it made sense to post it in the same position on ours.

Toledo has played host to many Bassmaster and FLW events since its inception, but the 185,000-acre reservoir is more than just a haunt for the pros. It offers plenty of crappie, stripers, catfish and bream for the recreational angler seeking to feed their family as well.

"Toledo Bend is in a class by itself, not just in Louisiana, but across the entire country," said Shreveport's Skip Peel, who keeps a boat on the south end of the lake. "Toledo Bend is a bass angler's dream come true. You can fish just about any type cover or structure with a wide range of techniques. In fact to be competitive on Toledo, you have to master a wide range of patterns and presentations. Now that the bass population contains a sufficient level of the Florida gene, we can add double-digit bass in large numbers to the mix."

The immediate future for Toledo appears bright, but the area needs improvement to continue hosting top pro events.

"The challenge for the future is to provide the infrastructure required to hold modern tournaments especially the big ones," Peel said. "The first of many improvements would be full cell or Wi-Fi coverage. The next Bassmaster Classic will be covered with cutting edge, real-time digital broadcast on multiple platforms and social media. That is the future. Where the pros go, the rest of the bass fishing world wishes to follow."

2. Lake Bistineau

Also making the Bassmaster list at No. 27 this 15,550-acre fishery offers cypress trees aplenty along with a continuing battle with salvinia. It's also a home-away-from-home for folks like veteran tournament angler Jeff Pate who has spent at least 40 years in its every nook and cranny.

"That's the place I cut my teeth bass fishing. Both my mom and dad worked, so they would drop me off in the morning at the Shady Landing at our boat. We had a 1970 Tidecraft with stick steering and a 40 horsepower motor," Pate said. "I would spend the entire day on the lake throughout the summer and probably even skipped school some."

Pate was surprised at the lake's Bassmaster ranking.

"With all the great lakes out there — Guntersville, Falcon — I wouldn't have thought Bistineau would have even been on the list. It has changed a whole lot over the years."

3. Caney Lake

This 5,000-acre lake holds the state record for a largemouth bass thanks to a 15.97-pound fish caught in 1994 by Greg Wiggins. Even though it was almost unfishable for several years due to hydrilla, it is making a strong comeback after carp laid waste to the grass.

"If you want really quality bass, it's hard to beat Caney Lake," said veteran outdoor writer Glynn Harris. "At one time, it had seven of the top 10 bass in the state and there was a 13-pounder caught this year."

Added Bobby Phillips, who fishes Caney regularly: "This lake has really come back since the carp are gone. They are catching a lot of big bass on it at night. There are a lot of white perch being caught in 20 feet of water."

4. Black Lake

Offering approximately 7,000 acres of quality fishing, Black Lake in Campti has been a favorite haunt of anglers since the 1930s.

"It's a cypress tree lake offering multiple spots for bass to hide in the root system and ambush their prey," said Sid Havard, who calls the fishery his favorite. "They can attack shad, bream and bullfrogs or whatever happens by. I've always heard people say that bass are like a tiger in the bush — they dictate what happens. The lake also has multiple depths. It has deep holes and shallow areas along with ledges and grass."

5. Grand Bayou

Small in size (2,700 acres), but big in production, Grand Bayou has already produced 20 bass weighing in the double digits this year, according to lake expert Jerry Hester of Martin.

"There's not a lot of structure on the lake. It's an open water reservoir, and the average depth is five feet with some 25 foot pockets by the spillway," said Hester, who has fished it since it opened in 1996. "As far as a trophy lake, I don't think you can do better than Grand Bayou in North Louisiana."

6. Lake D'Arbonne

Located just a short drive north of Ruston, D'Arbonne was built in 1963 and has gone through its fishing ups and downs since. It's a 15,250-acre reservoir where the size of your catch isn't always what matters.

"D'Arbonne is a quality fishery and a good lake to catch three to five pounders," Harris said. "It has a lot of those. It has the channels, sloughs, cover and shad that bass need to reproduce."

7. Caddo Lake

Were it not for the slot limit, this 26,810-acre lake, spanning the Louisiana-Texas border, might rank higher. It produces lots of huge bass in the spring along with quality bream and crappie throughout the year for guides like Randy Deaver, a Shreveport fireman who fishes the lake about 200 days per year.

"It's a pretty consistent lake, although weather usually dictates the bite. The worst time to fish it is post-spawn (late April or early May). Best time is February, March or the first of April," Deaver said. "Fishing the trees is good early in the year, although they move into the grass later."

8. Ouachita River

Another regular stop for BASS and FLW events, along with the Ronald McDonald House of Northeast Louisiana's big bass tournament, the Ouachita has been a turbulent mess over the past month. But that doesn't detract from its past success.

"It's out of its banks right now just like the Red River," Phillips said. "All the fish are on the banks up in the trees, so it's got to come down before there will be effective fishing there."

9. Red River

Echoing the sentiments of the Ouachita, the Red is currently unfishable. But it has hosted two Bassmaster Classics and will likely host a third in the not-too-distant future.

"In the past it's been one of the best fisheries we've ever experienced in this area," said Red River guide Russ McVey. "That's because it's fairly easy for the novice to the professional to fish due to not having to fight cypress trees — there's casting accessibility. There is an abundance of bass, bream, crappie and catfish."

10. Lake Claiborne

Thanks to plenty of open water, this 6,400-acre lake is also easy to fish for the novice. Solid stringers of crappie and striped bass are the norm.

"Claiborne is a good lake to fish at night because there are hundreds of docks and most of them have brush piles and lights," Havard said. "The lake is loaded with stripers, if you like to catch them."

Best of Rest

Black Lake-Hosston; Cypress Black Bayou; Cross Lake, Lake Bruin, Lake St. John, Bayou DeSiard; Cane River; Kepler Lake; Lake Larto/Saline Lake; Black Bayou Lake; Ivan Lake.

 

TOP 10 North Louisiana fisheries

1. Toledo Bend

2. Lake Bistineau

3. Caney Lake

4. Black Lake

5. Grand Bayou

6. Lake D'Arbonne

7. Caddo Lake

8. Ouachita River

9. Red River

10. Lake Claiborne

 

Source: The Times research