Caney Lake is ripe for sightfishing this month

Big bass moving up to spawn

The front that blew through North Louisiana yesterday (April 4), dumping rain and producing high winds, dropped temperatures at Caney Lake dramatically. Air temps were in the high 30s this morning, while water temps dropped into the low 60s.

So I was pretty uncertain about the fishing we’d find when LouisianaSportsman.com user Craig Graham backed the boat into the water. Graham was undeterred, however.

“It might keep new fish from coming up, but the fish that were already up aren’t gong to be bothered,” said Graham, who goes by the screen name “Made To GO” on the reports forum.

Early in the morning, I still had some doubts. There were a few buck bass cruising here and there, but the pickings were pretty slim.

And then we broke the ice when we found a male bass locked on a bed. Initially it wouldn’t respond well to the pitched Speed Craws, but then Graham pulled out his secret weapon – a Rapala jerkbait.

“When a fish is on a bed but won’t commit, that jerkbait will make them lock on the bed and bite,” he explained.

He threw it out well past the bed, and cranked it down before popping it directly at the 1-pound bass. The fish dodged it, swam off the bed and circled back.

With each successive cast of the hard-plastic lure – with Graham actually bumping the bass whenever he could – the bass would make tighter and tighter circles.

“Oh, yeah, he’s getting mad now,” he said.

I then threw out my white Speed Craw, and moved it into the bed. The bass went bananas, swirling on the lure. Several casts later, the bass finally flared and picked the lure up by the claws.

I swung and missed the bass for the first of several times. Each time, the bass would turn on its side and plug the little lure.

However, the bass finally inhaled the lure and I sank the lure into the fish.

It wasn’t much of a fish, but it was a start.

As noon approached, the water temperatures moved from 63 degrees to the mid 60s. Graham said that was great news.

“When it hits 66 degrees, that’s when the fish will start locking on the beds,” he said.

Sure enough, the number of bass in the shallows certainly increased. The vast majority of those fish were still bucks, but 3-pounders started appearing. And mixed in with them were some females breaking the 4-pound mark.

After landing a few more small males, I realized I needed to charge my video camera. We headed back to our cabin at Jimmie Davis State Park, and as I disembarked Graham said he was going to look for a big female we had seen in the cove yesterday evening.

Walking back to the dock, I saw Graham set the hook and quickly flip a nice fish in the boat.

“I found her,” he said. “There were two females and a male on the bed, and I just caught the smaller male.”

He picked me up, and soon we were set up next to the bed. The female and her consort were hovering over the pale brown spot in the bottom scum, and I started pitching my Speed Craw.

“She’s going to be easy to catch,” Graham said. “She’s not going to be intimidated by that bait.”

It was immediately clear that Graham knew what he was talking about. The male turned on the lure, but his girlfriend shouldered it aside to charge the offending bait.

The second cast, the sow pecked the lure. The next time, the lure was picked up and spit out of the nest.

Seconds later, as I maneuvered the lure through the bed, the big bass remained tucked right on the edge of bed.

And then, the white lure disappeared. I had felt nothing. Nada.

But I set the hook anyway, and my flipping stick bowed under the weight of the fish as the hook sank into its mouth. Honestly, I wasn’t real certain if I had hooked the male or the female – until the fish turned on its side and rolled.

The bass soon rocketed out of the water, trying to throw the hook. But after a second jump, the fish was soon in the net.

It weighed in at 6 pounds, and Graham and I soon got down to the business of documenting the catch.

After plenty of photos and shooting a short vid, the over-the-slot fish was released.

We saw several other solid fish, but were unable to put them in the boat. Most of the females were yet to commit to beds, but Graham said it’s a matter of time.

“Those are tomorrow’s fish,” he said. “They’ll be coming up and locking on the beds.”

Caney Lake, which produced six of the state’s top 10 bass (including the current 15.97-pound record), is quickly returning to prominence after the grass carp debacle of the late 1990s during which state biologists dumped an overabundance of the vegetarian fish in the lake and effectively killed the state’s premier trophy lake.

“The lake looks healthy,” Graham said. “The water has a slight green tint, which means the base of the food chain is strong. There’s a lot of bait, a lot of bream, a lot of bass.

“This is my fifth trip in 12 months, and I’ve been surprised and impressed.”

Brown’s Landing reported that a 13-pounder was landed a few weeks ago. That speaks to the trophy-producing potential of the lake.

Graham hasn’t landed a double-digit fish, yet, but several bass over 6 pounds have been plucked from beds since last spring.

“The biggest fish I’ve caught was an 8-pounder in February,” he said. “And one of the ones you and I saw today is 8 pounds, if not 9.”

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About Andy Crawford 863 Articles
Andy Crawford has spent nearly his entire career writing about and photographing Louisiana’s hunting and fishing community. While he has written for national publications, even spending four years as a senior writer for B.A.S.S., Crawford never strayed far from the pages of Louisiana Sportsman. Learn more about his work at www.AndyCrawford.Photography.