Jim McKay loves to fish anytime, but his years as an educator make the summertime one of his favorites. When school was out for summer, Jim was out for crappie. Now he’s retired, but he still hasn’t broken that habit.
One of his favorite spots isn’t very far from his house in West Monroe — the meandering D’Arbonne Bayou that runs from the spillway at Lake D’Arbonne all the way to the Ouachita River. And June is one of his favorite months.
“The bayou has some really big fish in it and I love fishing it,” he said. “One of the reasons I like it so much is my favorite way to fish is jigging stumps. I like to drop the jig down, feel the thump and reel him in. That’s the way we fish the bayou most of the time.”
Jim does get out in the many sloughs and runouts as well, sometimes by choice and sometimes because that’s just where the fish are. Fishing tops is popular on the northern end of the bayou while stump lines and sloughs seem to be the best producers toward the southern end.
“You have to spend some time on the water to catch them, but just pay attention and stay with them when you find them,” he said. For those not familiar with the bayou, he has three recommendations.
First, put in and ride the bayou for a bit. Find some stump lines and pick some that look good to you. The bayou isn’t real wide in most areas and in the summertime. There are lots of stump rows along the edge of the channel near the bank. There is almost always one side of the bayou that is in the shade. Jim likes to fish those areas, and the fish seem to like them, too. He normally fishes pretty shallow in the summer, usually catching fish suspended 2-4 feet deep. He recommends fishing slowly and making sure you drop the jig on both sides of the stump.
Second, check out the runouts and little creeks running into the bayou. These areas usually hold fish in the mouth of the runouts. Fish a little deeper here, sometimes 8-10 feet deep.
Third, never go to the bayou without a black hair jig or a blue thunder plastic jig with a pink head.
“Those are my two favorites and that’s what I start out with,” he said. “If they are really thumping one of them over the other, I’ll put that color on both poles.”
Access to the bayou is limited. A ramp near West Monroe at Joe Bob’s and a public ramp at Holland’s bluff are the best spots. Jim also warns boaters to watch where they are going. The channel is hard to follow in the wider areas, especially around the popular “S Curve” and Beanfield areas.