The Tchefuncte River seems to attract every boater around the state this time of year. Go there as an angler in May, and you better be prepared to fight off some wakes.
That isn’t necessarily conducive to catching bass on the already-challenging fishery, but angler Jason Pittman said you can avoid the chaos if you time your trips correctly.
“Because the Tchefuncte River is such a pleasure-boating river, the fish get a little bit skittish after mid-morning due to the boats running up and down it,” Pittman said. “You want to go early.”
The boat traffic certainly isn’t as bad on weekdays, but Pittman said going early will make the fish easier to catch regardless of the boat traffic.
“Early in the morning, those fish will start feeding on cypress trees,” he said.
Pittman said bass use the trees to maul bait that comes by.
“Those fish will try to pin the bait on a tree, so they’re using the tree as an ambush point,” he explained.
When he’s fishing up against cypress trees, Pittman likes a Santone buzz bait, and he’s adamant about starting his retrieve as soon as the bait hits the water.
“When it hits the tree, that’s when the fish will smoke it,” he said.
One of the inherit problems with a buzz bait is short-striking fish. But Pittman said the Santone buzz bait has a rather unique feature on it that hooks more fish.
“It’s got a really long shank on the hook,” he explained. “A lot of people will throw a buzz bait with a trailer hook, but if you’re throwing it on cover, the bait is going to get snagged.”
Generally, falling tides are magical when bass fishing, and the Tchefuncte is no exception, according to Pittman.
“With a rising tide, the fish want to go with the water, so they move farther back to where you can’t access them,” he said.
The Tchefuncte River has thousands of cypress trees, so narrowing down the choices can be daunting. However, this angler simplifies it as much as possible.
“It’s more or less trial and error, but 90 percent of the time I fish the outside bends in the river,” Pittman said.
Many anglers try to find the cleanest water, but that approach can really hurt you, he said.
“The (main river) stays so clean during the summer months that any type of dinge will make the fish easier to catch,” Pittman said.
Once the main-river traffic gets too heavy, Pittman focuses his efforts in deeper water.
“The first place they’re going to go is in a deep bend — 6 or 8 feet deep — on a brush pile,” he said.
At that point, Pittman switches to Texas-rigged Mister Twister craw-worms.