Channel your efforts correctly and follow the advice of these two expert bass anglers to land late-spring bass on sprawling Lake D’Arbonne.
The bass spawn is over on Lake D’Arbonne, so put up your rods and reels, pack up those lures and catch up on your honey-do list.
Wait a minute: I don’t think so.
Sure, fishing patterns are changing, but in some ways it is getting better.
This time of the year, Martin Elshout and Mark Price of Ruston have D’Arbonne bass seeing double. They say two is better than one, and these two experienced fishermen who partner up regularly for fun and tournaments, offer advice to help you be successful this time of year on the ’Bone.
No doubt post-spawn bass aren’t as excited to attack a lure as a shopper hitting a two-for-one sale, but if you channel your efforts correctly, you can catch plenty of largemouths the next few months on the 16,000-acre lake.
The first piece of advice this duo offers is simple: Fish like you like to fish.
“I kind of always just fish what I like to fish,” Elshout said. “I’m not real high on learning all the new techniques, and having all kinds of equipment and trying a new bait every 30 minutes. You can catch fish on D’Arbonne with lures and techniques that you are confident in.
“Sure, Mark and I vary what we’re doing, but don’t spend too much time learning the latest and greatest. We stick with what we know.”
For everyday anglers that translates to finding an area of the lake you feel comfortable with, learning it as well as possible, and sticking with lures and techniques that produce for you. You might have to vary tactics somewhat to match the conditions and depth of the water the fish are in, but you can catch fish the way you like to.
According to Elshout and Price, success in May and June means finding the channel. A good map can help you get started, and a good depth finder can pinpoint those areas. Printed maps of the lake are available at marinas such as Lester’s on the Lake or from the Union Parish Chamber.
Lake D’Arbonne consists of three main areas.
There are two major feeder creeks for the lake: D’Arbonne Bayou from the west and Corney Bayou from the north. They form two large, separate arms of the lake and meet at an area called Fork’s Ferry above the bridge on state Highway 33 (Farmerville-Ruston highway).
These areas are called D’Arbonne and Corney respectively.
The third area is the roughly half of the lake below the bridge, and it is referred to locally as the Big Lake.
“No matter what area of the lake you fish, May and June are channel months,” Price said. “When we say fish the channel, we mean the edge of the old river channel. The water on the edges of the channel rises to around 10 to 15 feet deep and it’s 30 to 35 feet deep in the old river channel itself on the Big Lake. Up the creeks, the edge can be from 5 to 8 feet deep and the channel anywhere from 15 to 25 feet deep.
“But the depth isn’t as important as finding the edge of the channel.”
Once you locate such a channel, focus on the drop on the inside of the channel. Then look for cover.
The ideal spots are where there is some sort of grass on the “hump,” or where an old slough or secondary creek comes into the channel you’re fishing.
But the real fish magnets along the edge of the channel are old stumps or root systems left from old, giant cypress trees. And the best spots are also on the inside bends of the creeks and channels.
“Those are the spots you can really catch some good fish,” Price said. “It takes some time to find them, but it’s worth the effort.
“I would suggest finding the edge and then fishing it for 75 to 100 yards or so. If you don’t do any good, try the same thing in another area. Keep doing that and you’ll find good fish.”
Best baits are big plastic worms like the Zoom Ol’ Monster Worm, which is a 10.5-inch lunker lander and one of the duo’s favorites. They Texas-rig the worm, and fish plum or purple on bright days and black or june bug on cloudy days.
Crankbaits also are good choices. Their favorites are Strike King Series 6 deep divers or Norman DD22 crankbaits. Occasionally, they go back to an old-time favorite, the Bagley DB3.
Shad-colored crankbaits work best in the post-spawn period. But, again, try your favorites
The key is using a lure that will get down to the proper depth of the water you are fishing and bump the cover.
“When the fish first move out on the channels, they are pretty aggressive,” Price said. “But as they get more pressure and it gets hotter, this kind of fishing gets tougher and tougher.”
If you don’t like looking for fish deep, that’s OK, too.
“The good thing about D’Arbonne is that a lot of the fish do stay shallow for a while after the spawn,” Elshout said. “You can catch some good fish flipping single cypress trees with a jig. That’s especially true if there is some kind of grass around. The lake also has a lot of boat docks that produce some good early bites. That goes away pretty early the hotter it gets.”
He said bigger is better when working these shallow-water fish.
“I don’t like little lures and light line, especially on D’Arbonne,” Elshout said. “I love fishing the cypress trees as long as fish are there. Even though the weather is warming up, the bass at D’Arbonne will hold on the cypress trees and boat docks, even after the spawn.
“I like flipping a jig or a big plastic lure at them and working it slowly.”
For boat docks, the duo also suggested using buzz baits and topwaters like Yellow Magic and Texas-rigged worms early.
Later, when fishing the shade of the docks, worms work well. Boat docks with lights seem to hold more fish this time of year.
Lake D’Arbonne was officially dedicated in October 1963, so it is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. You can come to the party, too. There aren’t any candles to blow out, but there are plenty of big fish to help you celebrate the grand occasion.
Try the techniques and areas that Elshout and Price recommend and combine them with, as they say, “fishing like you like to fish,” and you will receive the present of late spring and early summer Lake D’Arbonne bass.