It was a bad year for flooding on Finch Lake and the Ouachita River near the small community of Haile — so that means it’s a good year for big bream.

Scott Whitlock runs the Finch Lake Campground, where the road hits the water in Finch Lake. He is an avid bream fishermen and is amazed at the number of people who find this small Union Parish lake. But he’s surprised at the number of big bream as well.

“It’s a good problem, but sometimes when the word gets out about how good the big bream are biting, we get just about everybody we can handle in here,” he said. “This year is one of those years when we had bad flooding from the river, which means we have good fishing for big bream.”

Whitlock has been there for 30 years, so he should know.

“It can be hit or miss, but once the lake is down to pool stage for a while, the fishing is really good,” he said. “You have to spend some time finding them. I target the big bream, so I look for the deeper banks and areas where the grass isn’t so thick. Everything was late this year, so the summer fishing should be great for a while.

“There are about 3 miles of lake between here and the spillway at Harrell Lake, and then another mile of lake above us to the headwaters. The lake turns and winds and has acres and acres of good fishing, mostly around or out from the bank a short way,” he said. “I just fish along in places that look good to me, and I don’t stop unless I catch a big bream. We don’t stop for the little guys. That’s the way we approach it. And I love using crickets. That’s the best big bream bait for me.”

The flooding river restocks Finch every year. Whitlock said the big bream get out of the cold, muddy river and head back into the cleaner, warmer waters of Finch. When the river falls, they stay — and that’s why the lake is noted as a big bream hatchery. Besides big bream, Finch also offers something else valuable to fishermen: peace and quiet. 

“This isn’t some big marina or big busy lake,” he said. “You can come get away from it all here. Even on a busy day, you can get away from the crowd. One thing to remember: Bring what you need with you. It’s a long way to town.”

There is a concrete ramp at the campground at the end of Finch Lake Road (Highway PAR 2285). The other is a dirt ramp on the north end on the way to the Finch Bayou Landing on the Ouachita River. 

For up-to-date reports or more information, give Whitlock a call at 318-372-1800.