Bet on Bayou Black for January bass
|John E. Phillips|
Bayou Black is coming back strong after a series of calamities.
Thereís a lot of protected water there, because of the maze of canals. In January, I start searching for spawning bass in the backs of dead-end canals. If youíre fishing during the full-moon phase in January, and the weatherís warm, reaching the 60-degree range, thereís a good chance some bass will be on the beds.
Marsh bass in Bayou Black are some of the earliest-spawning bass in Louisiana, because this area warms up much more quickly than waters in other parts of the state. Fishing Bayou Black is much like fishing waters in Florida, since the bass start spawning when the water cools down, not when it warms up.
The 2011 Bassmaster Classic will be held in February out of New Orleans, and Iím convinced that Bayou Black is one of the five key spots where the Classic will be won.
Bayou Black once was one of the best areas of Louisiana to fish for bass. I remember fishing a tournament there in February years ago, and bringing in five bass that weighed a total of 18 pounds.
But Bayou Black has been beat up pretty bad by hurricanes, and in 1998, this section had a drought, causing saltwater intrusion. Then high Atchafalaya River levels helped remove some of the effects of the salt water. In the last couple of years, the bass in Bayou Black have had some good spawns, so you may catch and release 100 bass in a day from one spot.
My No. 1 bait at this time of year will be the Strike King Redfish Magic because it produces more vibration than most other types of spinnerbaits, making the bait easier for the bass to find and eat. The lure comes with a nickel or gold blade. I prefer the gold blade on cloudy days and the nickel blade on sunny days, regardless of the water color.
Instead of a skirt, the Redfish Magic has a rubber fish-type body. When Iím fishing a nickel-plated blade on the Redfish Magic, I prefer a pearl-colored body. On dark days, when the weatherís cloudy, I prefer a gold blade with a black body, a chartreuse tail and a red head.
Before I go to Bayou Black, Iíll get a map of the area and search for dead-end canals. However, I wonít start fishing in the backs of those canals. Instead, Iíll look for bigger canal systems that have moving water, and start fishing where the dead-end canals intersect with these bigger canals. Iíve found that in normal weather conditions, bass usually will be holding more at the mouths of those dead-end canals than at the backs of the canals.
If the area has extremely cold weather this month, the bass will migrate to the backs of the canals, where theyíll find warmer water.
Iíll generally start fishing from the intersection of the canals, and then to the back of any dead-ends. On a low tide, Iíll be casting and retrieving the Redfish Magic, but on high tides, Iíll be flipping the Strike King Perfect Plastic Rodent.
At this time of year, Iíll also be fishing a 1/2-ounce Red Eye Shad in red craw/chartreuse, gold/sexy-shad or chrome/sexy-shad colors. On sunny days, Iíll be fishing sexy shad or red craw/chartreuse, and on overcast days, Iíll be fishing the gold/sexy-shad color. Iíll fish around dead vegetation, pennywort mats and logs in a high tide.
If I find plenty of thick cover, Iíll be punching those mats with a black/blue-flake or a black-neon Perfect Plastic Rodent on a 1/4- or 3/4-ounce Tru Tungsten slip sinker. If I have to fish really heavy cover, I may use a 1- or a 1 3/4-ounce Tru Tungsten silver slip sinker and 65-pound-test braided line. But if the grass isnít very heavy, Iíll be fishing 50-pound-test line. If Iím fishing the Red Eye Shad or the Redfish Magic, Iíll use 20-pound-test fluorocarbon line with a 6.3:1 gear-ratio Quantum Tour Edition PT reel. When Iím fishing the Redfish Magic, I prefer a 7-foot medium-heavy-action Quantum Smoke PT Rod, and with the Red Eye Shad, Iíll be fishing a 7-foot medium-action Quantum Energy PT rod. When Iím flipping the Rodent, Iíll use a 7-foot, 11-inch heavy-action Quantum Tour Greg Hackney rod.
If thereís bad weather conditions and bad tides, I expect to catch only 10 bass. But with good weather and good tides, I expect to catch 30 to 50 bass, with a number of those fish weighing from 2 to 2 1/2 pounds each. But you also can catch some 4- and 5-pounders at Bayou Black in January.
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