The weather in the past few weeks has been sporadic, to say the least. Three days of wind and rain followed by a couple of days of beautiful but cold skies has been the norm.

So Slidell's Bryan Marshall has been bass fishing right behind his house in Bayous Liberty and Bonfouca for the past few weeks because the weather has not permitted for him to do much saltwater fishing farther south.

"When the weather isn't right to go to Venice, I just go right behind the house for bass," Marshall said. "The average size fish isn't really that big, but I've caught a few 2- and 3-pounders; (I) caught a 6 ½-pounder this year, too."

Marshall equates bass fishing to deer hunting because of the way anglers have to figure out the fish.

"You have to get out and pattern the fish," Marshall said. "Get the first bite of the day and look at the conditions of the spot that you got the bite. What kind of structure was it around? How deep was the water? What kind of bottom was there, and what kind of bait were you using?

"After you catch your first two to four fish you should be able pattern the fish."

The colder conditions make bass a lot more finicky, and that's when he uses a creature bait, such as an artificial crawfish. He can just let the lure just sit on the bottom, with its claws and tentacles floating around to attract bass.

"Right now I use a watermelon Yum 3 ½-inch Craw Papi with a ¼-ounce tungsten weight, which has a smaller profile than a regular lead weight," Marshall said. "A slow retrieval with a spinnerbait or Rat-L-Trap will work, as well."

The key to locating fish, he said, is finding clean water in the little cuts off of the main river channels.

"It's always important to find the clean water for bass," Marshall said. "It's been raining so much lately that the main channels have been pretty dirty."

Marshall has been catching bass in 3 to 8 feet of water for the past few weeks, but he said the bass will begin bedding soon.

"As it gets warmer, the bass should start pushing up onto the beds," he explained. "They'll try to find a shallower sand or rock bottom — any area where the bottom changes from a deeper, softer bottom."