Chris Burnham had been idling over the 20-foot hole in front of his house for a few weeks with a keen eye on his sonar.
For days on end, his sonar screen blankly stared back — but that changed this past Sunday.
“It’s been hit or miss on the white perch for a few weeks, but those sons-a-guns started biting this past weekend,” said Burnham. “I ran over that hole and saw nothing but balls of shad and white perch on my sonar. Looks like they’re on the move.”
Burnham, who lives right next to Folly Beach, tucked into the western corner of Highway 33 and the south shore of Lake D’Arbonne, says the deep hole in front of his house was created when sand was pumped from the lake to create the beach.
“I get a little excited when they show up in that hole because that means they’re getting close to staging for the spawn,” Burnham said. “The main spawn is still a month away, but if we can avoid a bunch of cold weather, they bite is only going to get better.”
Burnham believes fish move into this particular spot by following some cypress-tree sloughs from Little D’Arbonne creek and the main D’Arbonne Bayou section that runs under Highway 33.
He and his son Landon discovered that the most productive strike zone was anywhere from 15- to 17-feet of water while they were positioned over a 20-foot depth.
“We had a hard time staying on them because the wind was blowing so bad,” Burnham said, “but we stayed on them the best we could and caught 30 up to 1 3/4 pounds. They were just full of eggs when we cleaned them.”
Burnham said they were able to catch a few fish on shiners, but most of the 30 they caught came on a Cajun cricket-colored Bobby Garland Baby Shad jig.
The father-and-son team used their trolling motor to hold the boat agains the wind so they could vertically jig their lures.
“We’d get a bite, get blown off the spot, put another Nibble on, and troll right back on them,” Burnham said.
This particular hole is about the size of a softball field and maxes out at about 30 feet deep. The key to this spot, though, like lots of other spots around Lake D’arbonne, is that it is deep water surrounded by shallow water.
“I think anywhere up and down the channel where you can find a slough or drain coming into it could be really good this weekend as long as it doesn’t get too cold,” Burnham said. “Cypress Island has several drains that run off it to the main channel.
“The Forks Ferry area where Corny and D’Arbonne creeks come together also has a lot of drains and sloughs coming into it. And Stowe Creek on the main lake side of the bridge can be an excellent place to start looking for them.”
Look for leaning timber to locate any drain or slough that dumps into the main channel. Even though a lot of the old indicator trees are no longer there, you should still be able to find some trees still standing that are leaning toward the deeper water.
The key to the white perch really turning on is going to be getting some stable, warm weather.
“We’ve been getting rain, cold, warm… we’d have current, then it would slow down… but it’s finally starting to get where everybody is starting to catch them,” Burnham said. “It’s supposed to get cold this weekend, but the water should be in the mid-50s by then.”
Burnham looks for the best bite to really kick off during the full moon in March, although he actually prefers the second round of the spawn in April. The fish may not be as big in April as they are in March, but he says there will definitely be more of them.
Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of articles by Chris Ginn on the current status of the crappie bite across the state. You can view his earlier report on the Atchafalaya Basin here. His next report will be on Toledo Bend.