Action at Toledo Bend should improve

Above: Noah Jarrett of Hallsville, Texas, caught this chunky bass while fishing in the FLW High School Open on Nov. 4 at Toledo Bend. Jarrett, who fished with Davis Butrum, is the son of Ben Jarrett. The father-and-son found bass in the same patterns as guide John Dean — in shallow areas around peppergrass and milfoil — on buzzbaits, plastic frogs and Flukes in the middle section of creeks keying on channel swings in 2- to 10-foot depths.
Noah Jarrett of Hallsville, Texas, caught this chunky bass while fishing in the FLW High School Open on Nov. 4 at Toledo Bend.

When shad move shallow is key, guide says

I was hoping against hope, along with so many other bass anglers, that bassin’ as we know and love it would return to normal when the cold fronts started pushing across Toledo Bend this fall. This year’s cool down was going to be critical because it would tell us if something was amiss on this great border lake — or if the past six months or so of subpar bass fishing was just a hiccup. People, including me, were concerned after struggling much of the time through the hot summer months and, even into late summer. Grass was gone where it once was prevalent, and bass bites were hard to come by — even with deepwater patterns that were so effective in the past.

Knock on wood, but as of the first week of November I believe bassin’ will be improved in December. I’ve caught bass on jerkbaits in drains and creeks with new, lush green peppergrass and milfoil in a place that was devoid of underwater vegetation the past two or three years.

That was at the Indian Mounds. And I’m sure other areas are greening up, so to speak.

That’s a positive. The fact that there are a bazillion shad in the lake would be a big plus right now, too —  except it’s weird they haven’t moved up into the 5-foot depths as they traditionally do now. At this writing, they still are in 20-foot-or-so depths, which is very unusual with the water temperature in the mid-60s. Maybe before long they’ll get jammed up in the creeks — it seems like everything’s been late this year.

Bass will follow

When the shad and bream do move sooner or later, bass will follow them into shallower depths for one reason — to forage so they can fatten up for the winter (or what passes for winter these days in Northwest Louisiana and Northeast Texas.) Sure, there’ll be some icy days, but how many times this past decade or so have we walked around with shorts on Christmas Day?

A week ago I went to the Indian Mounds, forced there by high northwest winds — and I’m glad it turned out that way. I caught nine bass, about half of them keepers, on a gold/orange Rogue worked over the grass in creeks and drains. Things definitely are looking up, and I’m going to keep checking spots.

Like I said, the whole key to getting bass where we want them is getting the baitfish up.

I’ll stick to moving baits, as will many others, and should catch plenty of bass. Jerkbaits, Chug Bugs, Yellow Magics, plastic frogs, buzzbaits, ChatterBaits, swimbaits and Flukes will be effective for the next six to eight weeks.

December’s fishing outlook

December’s bass fishing success should be fair to good, weather permitting. Yeah, there probably will be days you can’t get on the lake, but when you do, enjoy it.

I anticipate an overall mild December. I basically don’t see much difference than early fall, other than bass fishing should get better and stronger with the presence of more grass and baitfish moving to where they’re supposed to be.

The pool stage now is around 168. Don’t expect to see it change before May because repairs are being made down at the dam, and officials are going to keep it there through April. Bass fishing in the spring will be different next year without water in the bushes and other traditional springtime cover.

Crappie fishing has been fair at best, and the crappie guys are hopeful it turns a corner, just like the bass fishing. Some are averaging 25 to 30 per trip on minnows in and around deep brushtops.

If you want to catch bass in December, when the bassin’ should be fair to good, I’ve been guiding on this lake most of my life and you’re welcome in my boat. Give me a call at (936) 404-2688.

John Dean
About John Dean 33 Articles
John Dean has been guiding on Toledo Bend most of his life. If you’d like to join him on a trip, give him a call at (936) 404-2688.