Action about to peak at Bayou Segnette

I’ll be going to the marsh this month at Bayou Segnette near New Orleans to catch pre-spawn bass there in January. The bass are starting to move out of the lakes toward the dead-end canals, where they intend to spawn.

By this time of year, this area will be having cold fronts in the big lakes where these bass live. Because the lakes are getting muddy and cold, the bass are moving out of those places in preparation for the spawn. Now, the bass won’t be all the way in the back ends of the canals. Instead, they’ll be holding in the canals that don’t have a lot of water flowing through them. These canals generally will be warmer than the big lakes, especially in the afternoons.

The average daytime temperature in New Orleans is usually 10 to 15 degrees warmer than any other location in the state. January is generally our coldest month in Louisiana. We normally don’t even have wintertime until January. Also, as soon as January ends, those bass will be preparing to spawn. If this section of Louisiana has any type of warm spring weather, the bass in Bayou Segnette will start spawning.

Because of these factors, the bass will begin schooling up. I’ll be fishing a Strike King Red Eye Shad to cover a lot of water quickly and find those big schools of bass that will be bunched up in the dead-end canals. I prefer a 1/2-ounce chrome/blue Red Eye Shad on a sunny day, and on cloudy days, I like a gold or red Red Eye Shad, especially if the water has some color in it. I’ll be casting to isolated cover, like grass patches, in those canals.

Early in the day, the bass will be deeper than they will be later in the day when they’re holding out in the canals. Since these canals are dug ditches, many times early in the day the bass will be holding on the underwater break lines. I’ll also be fishing in places where water’s coming out of the marsh on a falling tide. When that water comes out of the marsh and begins to come into the canal, that’s where the bass will bunch up this month.

If you get a warm, sunny afternoon this month with 65- to 80-degree weather, the bass will pull right up on the bank late in the afternoon. If I can get a little breeze on the water, I’ll start fishing either a spinner bait or the Strike King Redfish Magic, which resembles a broken-armed spinnerbait and has a lot of vibration. The Redfish Magic is one of the South’s best-kept bass-catching secrets. It was designed to catch redfish, but I also use this lure to catch bass.

If I’m fishing a spinnerbait, I prefer a 3/8-ounce, and if the water’s clear, I like the 3/4-ounce Colorado/willowleaf blade combination in the Strike King Premier Pro-Model series of spinnerbaits. If the weather’s cloudy, I like the gold shiner or chartreuse colors. On sunny days, I’ll be fishing a white- or a green-gizzard-shad-colored spinnerbait. But really, the profile of the bait is more important than the color in January.

At this time of year, the bass are eating finger mullet, menhaden, shad and other bait. Marsh bass are spoiled. They can eat everything in the marsh, including crawfish and crabs. At Bayou Segnette, the Davis Pond freshwater diversion is coming out of the Mississippi River, which keeps that area fresh, and brackish water is moving into the region. So there’s many different types of food for the bass to eat, which keeps the marsh bass really healthy.

If you fish the right day, you have an outside chance of catching 50 bass in a day and a very legitimate chance of catching 20 to 25 bass per day. You may even catch a 10-pounder. Over the last two to three years, 10-pound bass have been caught out of the marsh. This past summer, oftentimes when the temperature was in the 90s, anglers caught 8-pound bass there. I expect this January to have some of the biggest bass Bayou Segnette ever has produced. Bass fishing has never been as good as it is right now at Bayou Segnette.