When most sportsmen think about the Saline-Larto area in Central Louisiana this time of year, the natural tendency is to think about duck hunting. But it’s also a great time to chase crappie on Larto Lake, Saline Lake and the numerous bayous that make up this complex.

While duck season opens this month, it doesn’t really pose a problem for anglers, bass/crappie guide Jason Bordelon said.

“It’s a busy time down here, for sure, but there really isn’t much competition between duck hunters and fishermen,” Bordelon said. “If you go earlier in the day, you do need to be mindful of where they are hunting and not get too close. That’s just common courtesy.

“There are plenty of places to fish. The best way to avoid any conflict is to go fishing after 10 in the morning; (hunters) are gone by then.”

The crappie are definitely not gone, however.

If the weather is still hot, the fish tend to scatter from 6 to 15 feet deep and be a bit hard to hem up. But after a couple of cool fronts, crappie gather in the channel.

That’s when fishing really gets good.

“That’s where they should be this month,” Bordelon said. “I like to start looking for them in 10 to 15 feet of water, and they’ll suspend at various depths. The very best place to start looking is in the bends of the channels in the bayous.”

The lake complex is a large, natural backwater area located in Catahoula, LaSalle, Avoyelles and Rapides parishes, and it’s composed of Larto Lake, Saline Lake, Shad Lake and numerous interconnecting smaller lakes and bayous. It covers about 8,000 acres at normal pool stage.

These waters also are a great area for fall bass fishig.

Electronics play an important part in locating crappie, but you can do it the old-fashioned way and probably find a good mess by just covering a lot of water.

“This place isn’t like a big, open lake,” Bordelon said. “It can be tough to run, and it has lots of cypress trees and stumps in most areas. You need to stick to the channels.”

The guide likes to fish plastic jigs in black-and-chartreuse, black-and-orange. Anything with chartreuse will work, he said.

Or just use a jighead tipped with a shiner, Bordelon said.

He uses 4- to 6-pound Hi-Seas line, and Mr. Crappie rods and reels.

If you haven’t fished the area before, be aware that many of the roads leading into some of the bayous and parts of the lakes can get rough during the fall and winter, based on rainfall and traffic. There are almost a dozen concrete ramps and several landings, including Youngblood’s, Saline and Muddy Bayou campgrounds, Big Creek and Woodson’s.

The best approach for newcomers is to put in and find some good-looking spots near the landing where you don’t have to run too far, Bordelon said.