It’s July — time for fireworks on Lake D’Arbonne in Union Parish. 

But not just the dazzling display of rockets and bombs bursting in air over the lake on the Fourth. It’s also time to find big bass exploding on your bait along the channels of the big 16,000-acre reservoir.

Just ask lake resident David Harrell. 

He’ll be easy to spot on the lake this time of year because there won’t be many people out there — even though the fish are biting.

“It’s just too blame hot for most people,” he said. “But when you get in the right spot at the right time, you won’t even realize what the temperature is.”

The old D’Arbonne Bayou and Caney Creek channel contours meander under the surface from one end of the lake to the other. It’s the bends in these creeks that offer a good hiding place for bass — and when they get hungry, they’ll swim up on the backside of the creek bends, find a school of big gizzard shad and belly up to the buffet.

“When the water is pretty still, you can see big gizzard shad, some of them 4 or 5 inches, jumping out of the water when the big bass are chasing them,” he said. “That’s when you know you are in the right place at the right time. Sometimes you have to move from hole to hole, but when you see the shad on your depth finder or flicking on the surface, the bass aren’t far away.”

Harrell said you don’t catch them all day long because when the bass aren’t chasing shad, they lay up and can be tough to catch for a while. Believe it or not, the hottest part of the middle of the day seems to trigger a better bite. The brighter the sun, the better the bite. That’s why there aren’t a lot of folks out there during the next two months — but the bite is on.

“You can catch them on a lot of different lures that imitate shad, but my favorite is the Norman DD22,” he said. “Those fish come up chasing shad, then they go back down. That bait allows you to catch them while they are still shallow, then reaches the depths you need when they go back down deeper.”

You can also catch quantities of good bass around grass beds and lily pads at D’Arbonne this time of year, especially early. Buzzbaits, frogs and wacky worms will work there, but the big ones will be more consistent deeper along the channels. 

The fish won’t be on every channel bend, so it takes some time to find them, but keep your eyes on the graph and the surface looking for shad. That’s a tell-tale sign feeding bass are nearby.