As May rolls around every year, you will find Harrisonburg native Jacob Cater putting away his turkey gear with the anticipation of getting back on the water to chase some post-spawn bass.
In his spare time, when the Agricultural Specialist at Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry isn’t spending time with his wife and newborn son or working on the family farm, you can usually find him on nearby Bushley Bayou. This almost hidden lake can be found just south of Harrisonburg and north of Jonesville as an oxbow off the Ouachita River in Catahoula Parish. The lake has somewhat of a limited access. However, you can launch from a public ramp on Wright Rd, just off state Hwy 923.
Over the last five years this lake has seen its share of pressure, but that doesn’t deter Cater. There are still plenty of bass and now is a good time to catch them.
“I fish Bushley a lot, mainly because I can leave the house and have the boat in the water within 10 minutes,” Cater said. “Bushley Bayou is more of a quantity lake than a quality lake. You won’t find much grass on the lake and that seems to be one of the downfalls, but the cypress trees are plentiful along with boat docks and the occasional rock pile.”
While the bayou used to be free flowing, it is now dammed off from the Ouachita River, but it still maintains flow into Little River. In fact, the northern end of the bayou from the dam down is the most heavily fished area.
When targeting these post-spawn bass, Cater likes to start off the early morning around the shallow cypress trees throwing a black buzz bait.
“The black buzz bait is my go-to bait during the low light conditions,” he said. “As the day progresses, I will switch to a chartreuse and white spinner bait to cover more water. I like to fish the 3 to 7 foot depth range. Once I start locating fish, I’ll slow down and throw a Brush Hog. Fishing a Brush Hog is my passion. I like to pair it with a 5/16 ounce weight, Texas rigged.”
Among his arsenal of baits, his favorite Brush Hog colors include black/red flake, June bug, and watermelon red. Cater likes throwing the darker colors due to the stained water that usually has an 8- to 10-inch visibility.
If the bite slows down, Cater has found a favorite stretch of bank about 150 yards long where he’s been able to put together a few bites and go back and forth and fish it slow.
“It’s all about the presentation,” he said.
When the opportunity presents itself, Cater likes to throw a white or chartreuse crankbait around some of the main lake points.
“If I’m looking for a quality bite, I’ll locate a sandy point and try to pick it apart with a crankbait and hopefully find a solid bite, he said. “The lake is very good about maintaining a steady water level. There is an over flow weir that helps keep the water at a sustainable level.
“Even after a 3-inch rain, the water is back to its original level within just a few days.”
Cater also adds that It can be very difficult to fish after a large rain accumulation, but it doesn’t take long for the lake to return to its normal stained conditions.