Brett Preuett spends his time traveling thousands of miles making a living catching bass on the pro circuit. So what does he do for relaxation when he comes back home to Monroe? He grabs a friend, sheds his pro fishing jersey, doesn’t worry about catching a limit and just goes bass fishing for fun, of course. 

“This time of year is a great time to catch some really big largemouth bass on Bayou Bartholomew Lake between Bastrop and Sterlington,” the pro said.  “Depending on the latest weather, you can catch them up in shallow water holding on a late fall pattern, or moving into the winter pattern. And this time of year, you need to make sure you are ready to try either of them, based on the weather.”

Two common denominators for bass success here are cypress trees and flats. On warmer days, the fish will hang under the expansive root systems of the shallower cypress trees, both along the bank and out in the mostly shallow-water lake. As the water cools off, or cold fronts pass by, the fish will move to deeper cypress trees on the flats, Preuett says. Cold weather will keep them closer to the structure, but they will also roam around the flats looking for shad, as well.

Because shad are their primary diet now, Brett turns to shad- or chrome-colored lipless Rat-L-Traps or sexy shad squarebill 1.7 Echo lures. 

As the water gets colder, fish often move across the channel and get on some of the deeper drop-offs. One other proven technique for this month is fishing a deeper diving crankbait or jig along the deeper steep banks and outside curves of the winding, cutoff bayou. While Brett uses many baits for this technique, his obvious favorite is a Preuett Cajun Bug jig that he designed produced by Tree Shaker Tackle.

“That jig is perfect for this kind of situation,” he said. “You can pitch it by the cypress, swim it slowly through the flats, or jig it slowly down the drops on the steep banks. I also use a new Creme Speed Screamer (a multi-appendix speed craw-type lure) with a quarter-ounce sinker on the steep bank structure.”

And unless the water temperature dips below the mid-50s, Preuett most often starts off the first hour of the day with a ½-ounce buzzbait and spook-type lure, like a Rat-L-Trap StutterStep, both in shad colors. 

Known locally as “The Cutoff” because the lake is dammed off on one end from the original bayou and from the Ouachita River, on the other, the lake has limited access. There are public ramps at both ends, but parking is limited. An improved commercial ramp and parking is available at Barrett’s Boat Dock, located just off Highway 165 north of Sterlington in Ouachita Parish.