The game is on for bass chasing shad in small cuts and canals
September is a month that is heavily anticipated by most folks living in South Louisiana for a number of reasons. One being that It marks the start of football season. It’s also a time that we enjoy a quieter house because the kids are back in school. But perhaps the biggest reason that we look forward to September is that it’s usually the month when the first cool front passes through.
Chris Basey of Covington loves September, but it’s for an entirely different reason.
“This is the month when the shad move back into those small cuts and canals off of the main river,” he said about Bayou Bonfouca. Basey is a year-round bass fisherman and targets the rivers and bayous on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. September presents a chance for him to move off of the main river and start fishing more shallow.
“Oh I love it!” he said. “When the shad start piling into the cuts — I know the bass will be right behind.”
A good day
On his latest trip he was fishing Bayou Bonfouca and made his way back into a canal near Palm Bayou. It had plenty of vegetation along the shoreline and the surface was alive with action.
“I just knew it was going to be a good day when I entered that canal — I don’t think three seconds went by that I didn’t see shad skipping or a wake being thrown,” he said.
It was early and Basey grabbed his rod with a frog tied on.
“I like to start out with a frog when it’s early like that,” he said. “Usually my biggest fish come during the early morning hours on a frog.”
After seeing an explosion between some lilies and the marsh line, he tossed the frog onto the shoreline and worked it into the water.
“That thing wasn’t even in six inches of water when he blew through and smashed it,” he said.
Basey waited an extra second before he set the hook and then the fight began.
“All I could say was — ‘don’t come off, don’t come off,” he said. He finessed the fish through the set of lilies and then was able to boat-flip him. Basey started his day with a five pound bass and was able to catch several more between two and four pounds that day.
“All the fish were gorged with shad with some spitting them out as they flopped on the bow,” he said.
While Basey starts his day with a frog along the shoreline, it’s not long until he switches over to a spinnerbait. Basey prefers a 3/8-ounce spinnerbait in white with an Indiana blade. He adjusts the color of the blade to the color of the water.
“When that water is root beer colored, I like to go with a gold blade,” he said. “When it’s clear water, I’ll use a silver.”
Basey ties his spinnerbait on to a 7-foot medium rod with a moderate tip. This allows the bass to get the fast moving spinnerbait in its mouth without it being ripped out, adding “there’s a lot of forgiveness in that rod that helps me catch more fish on a spinnerbait.”
What to look for?
From the northernmost point where Bonfouca originates to the southernmost section where it empties into Lake Pontchartrain, there are 44 canals that offer anglers an escape from the main bayou. So finding a canal to fish isn’t a hard task. When deciding on what cut or canal to fish, Basey has a few tips.
“Look for canals with a lot of grass along the shoreline,” he said. “Also wharfs, bulkheads, and other transitions divide the shoreline.”
Basey starts at the mouth of the canal where it meets the main bayou and works his way back. The farther back it goes, the better, he said. Basey works his way all the way to the back of the canal and puts together a pattern that dictates where he’ll find fish in other canals.
With the shad starting to move back into the cuts this month, you can expect them to remain there throughout the winter until they move out after the spawn in the spring.