Josh Maxwell isn’t a big dancer, but in January you can bet you’ll find him dancing a jig out at Lake Bistineau.
A Bistineau jig.
“If you don’t fish anything else, you’ve got to fish the Bistineau jig for crappie on Lake Bistineau in January,” Maxwell said. “It’s a pink head wrapped with purple thread and chartreuse hair.
“It’s the best jig on the lake; I guess that’s why it’s named that.”
There’s another sure winter bet on this 17,200-acre lake formed in 1938 when a dam was built across Bayou Dorcheat just south of Minden.
Fish the channel areas near Port O Bistineau, at Skinner Slough or down at Diamond T’s.
You’ll find those areas hold the best deep water in the lake, and the fish stack up there in around 20 feet of water.
The best depth to fish is around 14 or 15 feet, unless your electronics show big wads of fish at other depths.
“Besides the Bistineau jig, I fish a variety of hair jigs and plastic tail jigs in popsicle, Cajun cricket, bluegrass — and I always us a pink or orange head,” Maxwell explained.
Some fishermen are also using shiners, but Maxwell prefers jigs.
And he never lets a jig in the water without a chartreuse crappie nibble attached to the hook.
Josh’s favorite technique might not suit every fisherman, but he likes to spider rig with four to eight poles. He puts two jigs on every pole and uses 1/16-ounce jigheads this time of the year.
There are lots of fishermen who single-pole fish, holding a rod in each hand, but Maxwell just likes his odds better with more lures in the water.
The lake is still coming up from a fall drawdown, so exact levels depend on how much recent rain has fallen.
But the tips above will work regardless.
The best place to access these popular winter areas is at the Port O Bistineau off Yellow Pine Road south of Sibley.
“If you are new to the lake or have trouble finding where the fish are biting, there is one easy way to find them: Look for the boats,” Maxwell said. “The crappie aren’t the only thing that stacks up with the fishing turns on in January.”
And if you find the fish but can’t get them to bite, he said to change strategy by moving your bait a little faster or giving it a little pop to move it up and down.
Sometimes that turns on sluggish cold-water crappie.
“Catching crappie anytime is fun, but when they stack up in the water, the thump is hard to beat,” Maxwell said.
It’s enough to make him dance a jig.