Simple fact: you canâ€™t be in more than one place at any given time. Applied to Louisiana fishing, thatâ€™s a tough truth because at any given time, several good bites are happening. Add real-life concerns that limit the number of days you can actually spend fishing, and prioritizing becomes important.
The Larto-Saline Complex serves up world-class fishing for big crappie, and many anglers consider mid-winter prime time for targeting serious slabs. Complex is an apt description of this vast backwater system, which includes natural lakes, water from two major river systems, flow-diversion projects and an ever-changing character.
Water color and level are two of the largest variables, and both impact the crappie fishing. Local anglers like falling water, and most look for water that is dark, but not muddy. Working jigs with one or two poles in hand allows you to fish sunken brush and the edges of trees at a good range of depths and to cover a lot of water.
If youâ€™re looking for something larger than a crappie, January is also an excellent time to target a trophy largemouth at Lake Chicot.
Moving to the saltwater side of things, look for concentrations of redfish in deeper parts of bayous when the weather turns really cold. Expect the same fish to push shallow in the marsh during warmer snaps.
Fast bass action is the main attraction in the Atchafalaya Basin, which is vast, wild and beautiful. Fishing heats up there with the first hints of spring warmth. But, this area is complicated, both for navigation and for figuring out how water levels affect the fishâ€™s locations and orientation to cover.
If the water is low, fish concentrate in canals and generally are easy to locate. If it is high, vastly expanding the swamp and allowing the bass to spread back into the trees, finding the fish may require more looking.
Fish a spinnerbait or a shallow crankbait that you can cover a lot of water with, but also keep a worm or jig handy for slower presentations through thick cover.
For more information on the area, go to www.cajuncoast.com.
If you want to target something seriously big this month, head for Toledo Bend with heavy tackle and drift the lower end of the lake with big chunks of cut bait for overgrown and under-fished blue catfish.
In saltwater, where much fishing turns tough during February, sheepshead continue to bite near bridge pilings and jetty rocks.
New Orleans Area
Although March winds can be maddening â€” altering water levels and stirring sediment â€” when you do find the right conditions and figure out how the reds are oriented, this monthâ€™s action can be fabulous. Big redfish feed in the marshes and bayous just south of New Orleans. Look for clear water, and fleeing bait.
Walk the top with a Bomber Badonk-A-Donk and stay ready for explosive strikes. If reds are pushing bait, but wonâ€™t come to the top, swim a big-bladed spinnerbait just beneath the surface. The â€śthumpâ€ť of a big Colorado blade draws redfish from long distances.
For more information, visit, www.neworleansfishing.com.
Moving to freshwater, March is an excellent time to visit the Red River. Warming weather and normally high water pushes the riverâ€™s largemouths shallow and makes them aggressive.
March is also an outstanding time to look for jumbo crappie at Caney Lake. You may not catch big numbers, but thereâ€™s potential to land a genuine giant.
Toledo Bend Lake
Few places in the nation have a more storied largemouth tradition than Toledo Bend, but this massive impoundment on the Texas border has no need to rest on its reputation. The largemouth fishery is in outstanding condition with plenty of hefty bass in the mix. April outings yield high numbers of high-quality largemouths.
Toledo Bend offers everything from timber to brush to grass of many kinds, and this month the bass are in all the places where it looks like they should be.
Tie on a spinnerbait or a lipless crankbait and cover some water, casting to visible structure and watching for patterns. Often the water is clearer in the lower main body than up the river, so pay attention to how that affects the fishâ€™s positioning.
More information is available at www.toledo-bend.com.
If youâ€™re looking for fast-action spring crappie, with a strong possibility of some large fish in the mix, point the truck toward Lake Dâ€™Arbonne near Monroe.
For something bigger and meaner, visit Lake Calcasieu and swim grubs or soft-plastic minnow imitations for redfish. Watch for â€śslicks,â€ť which reveal where game fish are attacking baitfish beneath the surface.
Check out the best bets for Louisiana fishing for May, June, July and August on page two