There are numerous locales where you'll find some great Louisiana bass fishing, but some lakes, rivers and bayous are better than others.
In the Bayou State, anglers can pull bass from the water year 'round. Massive impoundments, meandering rivers, ponds and bayous offer many places for bass to hide. Even better, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologists are anticipating a great year of bass fishing consistent with historic trends.
Plenty of rainfall, relatively placid weather patterns during the spawn and a lack of significant variation in weather, population and development in impoundments across the rest of the year, have positively influenced recruitment rates among bass across the state.
Of course, bass come in a variety of shapes and colors from the ubiquitous Florida largemouth to hybrids striped bass and yellow bass to boot. Anglers can anticipate a full year of fast bass action from north to south throughout Louisiana.
District 2, which stretches from the Bayou State's northern reaches of the Mississippi River to the western boundaries of Union, Ouachita, and Caldwell parishes, is home to some of the most productive bass fisheries in the state.
"We really expect bumper crops of bass in all of our sampled waters" said Ryan Daniel, LDWF biologist. "All of our water bodies experiences good rain over the course of the spring and summer, which has a positive impact on recruitment of bass."
Recruitment is a measure fisheries biologists use to describe the number of juveniles that survive long enough to be counted in population assessments.
Daniel is happy to report that over the course of the year, no major issues or changes have impacted the lakes, rivers or bayous across the district, especially Poverty Point.
At 2,700 acres, Poverty Point is not the biggest in the state, but it is one of the newest impoundments, having opened in 2003.
The lake has produced a number of big bass over the years. A rich watershed, comprised of agriculture land, is pumped into the lake from Bayou Macon. The watershed provides plenty of nutrients, which are passed up trophic level to bass that feed on baitfish and other food items.
"Based on creel surveys and sampling, the bass population in the lakes is healthy and thriving, and anglers can look forward to a year of good fishing," said Daniel.
Other lakes in the District are anticipated to maintain historic catch rates. Anglers should find good numbers of bass on Turkey Creek, located west of Wisner. The lake is nearly 3,100 acres in size, with good tree growth near the northern third that supports some development along its eastern bank. Access to Turkey Creek can be made at King's Landing and Mabry's Landing, both found along highway 562, or the Parish Park on the southern end of the lake.
Bass anglers in District 1 can prepare for a good year of bass fishing as well. Biologist Manager Jeff Sibley is expecting the impoundments in the northwest corner of the state to continue to produce bass in line with historic trends.
"The majority of the waters in our district are very stable impoundments that do not fluctuate all that much," said Sibley.
However, Bistineau Lake was drawn down in the fall as part of the salvinia eradication program the state has adopted for the lake. While the drawdown will not destroy the fishery, it will lead to changes in habitat, which may actually benefit fish populations.
March is when spawning is at its peak, and during this time bass will stage in traditional areas near traditional habitats. After the spawn, anglers can find bass in their summertime haunts.
Some of the most popular largemouth lakes include Caddo Lake near Shreveport and Caney Lake in Jackson Parish. Both lakes experienced beneficial rains last year, and bass appear to have done well. Anglers can expect bass in both, but those targeting big bass should focus on Caddo. This lake consistently produces 12-pound bass.
Anglers should also check out Ivan Lake near Cotton Valley. This lake was completely drained, refilled and restocked in 2012. During sampling, 10-pound bass have shown up, and it should just keep getting better.
In addition to the largemouth bass, hybrid striped bass are found on Claiborne Lake and Cross Lake.
"Populations of striped bass are expected to remain healthy and afford fisherman yet another option for bass," said Sibley. "Also, Yellow bass are found in Caney Lake, Cross Lake and Claiborne Lake, and white bass run up bayou Dorcheat near Lake Bistineau."
The LDWF ArcGIS map viewer, found on the LDWF website can be used to located boat launches, district boundaries, artificial and natural reefs and images of the lakes in District 1 (and the other districts).
Pro Andrew Upshaw — 7-LB Toledo Bend Bass
The bounty found in Toledo Bend is shared equally with Texas. Managed on the Louisiana side out of the District 10 office, Toledo Bend will likely continue producing bass as previous years.
"It is a large lake with plenty of habitat, said Villis Dowden, LDWF biologist. "We do not really expect to see many changes in the lake. High water and low water may affect production, but fish populations remain stable."
The lake experienced some low water levels years ago, which translated into large bass once the water levels came back.
District 10 includes waterways found in Sabine, Desoto, Natchitoches and Red River parishes includes multiple impoundments, as well as two pools of the Red River,
A wildcat option — Grand Bayou Reservoir — covers approximately 2,500 acres and is considered a trophy lake. A slot limit between 14 and 17 inches protects mature bass from overharvest. In addition, the slow return of submerged aquatic vegetation in the lake, along with stocking efforts, have biologists in the area forecasting an increase in good fish from the reservoir, as well as some serious lunkers from 10 to 13 pounds.
In District 3, popular bass lakes include lakes Concordia and St. John. Both impoundments, near Ferriday, are anticipated to produce bass consistent with historic trends.
"Based on spring surveys, and the fact that we had plenty of good rains through the spring and summer, we are looking forward to a year of fishing not only in these lakes, but also other lakes and waters in the district," said Rick McGuffee, LDWF biologist.
In fact, McGuffee anticipates a good year for anglers across the district, which is nothing out of the ordinary. He does expect, however, to see some drop in the fish population at Iatt Lake, as a giant salvinia infestation required a fall draw down in 2017. As such, McGuffee reminds anglers to thoroughly clean boats, bilges and livewells before launching in different lakes. Thought Iatt isn't necessarily known as one of the district's most popular bass fisheries, anglers here could see slower action than previous years. Nantachie Lake also faced an explosion of invasive weed in the form of hydrilla.
Anglers targeting Florida largemouth have the option to turn their attention to other bass species like hydrid stripers and yellow bass in Concordia and St. John. Those taking advantage of these species can anticipate a good year as well, barring serious drought or other environmental issues affecting either lake. McGuffee suggests taking advantage of the striped bass in open water. These fish school to feed and present a fun option to try.
Looking back, Jody David, LDWF biologist, remembers all too well the effects weather may have on an impoundment's waters.
"We had a huge rain even in August 2016, but I think with the right weather, this year is shaping up to be a good year for bass fishermen and we may see some improvements to some fisheries as well," said David.
There are many places holding bass in District 6, including multiple impoundments and rivers. Barring major disasters or weather events, David anticipates a productive year for anglers, and suspects old tried-and-true lakes will continue to produce.
"Bass in Spring Bayou, located in Avoyelles Parish, have showed up en masse during recent creel surveys," said David. "Anglers are catching anywhere from 20 to 30 bass per trip. In addition, Chicot Lake, which is found in Evangeline Parish, has plenty of forage, and based on autumn electrofishing surveys, has plenty of quality bass as well."
Also in District 6, Pool 1 of the Red River produces quality bass throughout the year. However, anglers need to watch river stages to determine the best time to tackle bass, with low water in spring and fall being one of the best times to go.
Lake Martin, in Breaux Bridge, is small, coming in at only 800 acres. Years ago, the lake had a vegetation problem but that was managed with introduction of grass carp.
The grass carp handled the vegetation issue for a while, but vegetation slowly crept back in, forcing a small drawdown last fall. However, the lake holds a quality population of largemouth bass. This wildcat option is likely to produce plenty of bass this year and for the foreseeable future.
There are, of course, many other areas where anglers can pursue bass, with countless lakes, rivers and bayous within easy driving from anywhere in the state. Anglers just have to get on the water and find a few of these popular fish.