The line to launch at Bob’s Bayou Black was well beyond the overflow parking lot last Saturday morning.
“Well,” said Patrick Engerran, “either the fish are biting, or there’s a tournament I didn’t know about. Kind of like the long lines at Disney… only I think this is the happiest place on earth.”
Engerran, the reigning Northshore Bass Series Angler of the Year, was scouting for an upcoming media tournament.
He hadn’t fished Bayou Black since April and was immediately surprised to find The Pipeline Canal leading to one of his favorite spots choked with matted water hyacinths.
“Man, I’m glad I figured this out today,” he said. “I’d have hated to come through here on tournament morning to see it blocked. We can still get to my spot, but it’s now going to be about a 40- or 50-mile run rather than 9.”
Rather than take the long boat ride and not fish, Engerran decided to stop on a bank in what he called Lower Copasaw and picked up a 7’ 6” Bogue Chitto Custom Rods Flipping Stick rigged with 65-pound braided line and a Texas-rigged green pumpkin magic-colored Toups' Tackle Mighty Mudbug.
It didn’t take any time for Engerran to start leaning on bass and slinging them in the boat. Sticking with my 1/2-ounce jig and crawfish trailer, I quickly trailed him 10 bass to two.
Accusing him of front-ending me, I declined his offer to give me the Toups' Tackle craw because I just knew I would soon pitch my jig into the right little spot once again.
“The bait may have something to do with it, but notice I’m pitching farther back into the cover than you are,” Engerran said. “The water is moving, but it’s slow. I don’t think they’re out here on the edge where you’re pitching. They might move out there if it starts moving faster, but right now they’re back in there a little bit.”
We continued to hit a few spots as we made the long way around and up Turtle Bayou and picked up a couple bass at each stop before finally arriving at an area Engerran called the School Board, where we found lots of unwilling bass milling about.
Although Engerran picked up a couple fish on a swimbait, they generally thumbed their noses as we threw swimbaits, frogs and spinnerbaits.
Before leaving that particular grass bed, I relented and tied on a green pumpkin magic Mighty Mudbug since Engerran said we would probably be pitching mats the rest of the day.
At our first stop, Engerran explained the ups and downs of fishing matted vegetation.
“You can go 100 or 200 yards without getting a bite then get on a pile of them in 20 feet,” he explained. “It can get monotonous, but all that goes out the window when you start hammering on them.”
Nearly 100 yards later, Engerran picked up a bass off a clump of water hyacinths mixed in with some hydrilla on the edge of some open water between the canal and a marsh pond behind it.
I pitched right back into the same spot and caught another one as he was still reeling in the first. Five feet later, we caught a few more. It was exciting while it lasted, but then we hit another dry stretch.
Engerran wanted to go check some grass mats down by Lake Penchant, so we made the long run south where I continued to pick up fish on the Mighty Mudbug while Engerran tried several other different style baits to see if the bass might eat something else better.
We decided to close out our day where we started. I continued to slam them on the green pumpkin magic craw while Engerran continued to play around with different baits and different colors.
When he finally relented and threaded on another Mighty Mudbug — the same bait he opened with — Engerran finished the day with a flurry of fish that rivaled his hot start.
“Couple things to point out,” he said, as we packed up for the ride back to Bob’s. “Moving water was key for us today. If it wasn’t moving we didn’t get bit. Our best action came where we had a mix of hyacinths and hydrilla in about 4 feet of water, and a 1-ounce weight seemed to be the ticket.
“Most bass ate it on the fall in the cover. And there’s no doubt they were keying in on that green pumpkin magic Mighty Mudbug today. We tried other colors and other baits, but nothing we tried was nearly as productive.”
It was pretty clear why Engerran earlier referred to Bayou Black as the happiest place on earth. It’s an enormous area that continues to give up bass well into the summer. And because of it’s lack of deep water, bass can be caught shallow even during the heat of the day.