Tracking down some grand crappie fishing in west central Louisiana this time of year is easy. Just head for Coushatta and make the short ride south to Grand Bayou Reservoir. Since filling up in 1996, the 2,700-acre lake is best known for big bass, but it has just as many — or more — big crappie. 

You will need one thing beside your rod, reel and good bait to catch fish here, though. The lake is mostly wide open and the fish will be in areas this time of year where there is no visible structure.

“You will need good electronics to be successful here this time of year,” said Justin Maxwell, who lives on the lake. “Your electronics can make or break you and definitely reflects the ability to get on the fish and increase your numbers.”

You can save yourself a lot of time and trouble by asking others at local marinas where they are fishing, but you’ll still have to find the fish. Like most good crappie lakes, the main key to finding them is finding the baitfish.

“I personally always start looking in the deep parts of the channel and work up on the ledge and onto flats to shallower water if necessary to find the bait fish. When you find the bait, crappie aren’t far away,” Maxwell said. “A lot of times I find the fish on flats not far off the channel in around 17 feet of water. The depth to fish in that 17 feet of water range will depend on the clarity of the water and where you are making fish with your electronics. The fish are usually 1 to 2 feet off the bottom if they are on the flats. If the water is clear I will fish 12 feet deep and if its muddy or stained I will put my baits 1 foot above the depth I’m marking fish.”

Maxwell said Grand Bayou crappie can be very picky at times. One day they will hammer a double-minnow rig and the next day they don’t touch it. When the fish get picky, he always puts his weight on the bottom and two hooks above it. He likes to fish one rod with that rig and three others rigged with jigs. His favorite color on Grand Bayou in the fall is a Southern Pro popsicle on a pink head. On a sunny day, he likes Garland Cajun cricket on a pink head or Garland glitter critter on an orange head. On cloudy days, he relies on darker colors, like Garland’s eclipse or lights out.

“One thing to remember, If you want to be successful on Grand Bayou, is don’t stay stuck on a pattern that is not working,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to change it up altogether to find out what the fish want that day. If you aren’t catching fish find the bait and you will find the fish, and offer them a buffet and these picky fish will tell you what they want.”

The only public facility on the lake is the Grand Bayou Resort, which is owned and operated by the Grand Bayou Reservoir Commission. The Resort has everything anglers need, from a ramp, fish cleaning station, fishing piers, overnight accommodations and a large campground.