Fish Toledo Bend in April for spawning bass

This Ouachita River regular knows that hardly a fish in America tastes better than a Louisiana flathead.

I’ve picked Toledo Bend for April, because I’m competing in a Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament there this month, and I hope to place in the money. BASS has selected Toledo Bend for a tournament in April because this reservoir will be producing numbers of bass this month.

Generally in April, we’ll have had warm, stable weather, and the bass will be spawning in this area. If the weather’s right, the bass may start spawning as early as February in Toledo Bend, since it’s a big body of water holding numbers of fish. Different areas of the lake may warm up at different times, but April is the primary spawning month for this reservoir.

If you get on the right pattern this month, you easily can catch 100 bass in a day. At this time of year, I’ll be looking for big flats. The bass in the creeks spawn first in protected areas, and then the bass by April will be spawning out on the main lake.

I’ll look for inside grass lines (the backside of a grass line closest to the bank) on the main lake and underwater mounds. Because the lake has been really drawn down this winter, many of those underwater mounds have been exposed to the sun and wind, which usually makes them hard. When the water comes back up, those mounds provide ideal places for bass to spawn. I’ll be searching for stumps on these types of spots.

Because the bass are spawning in April, you may expect sight fishing to be the primary pattern. However, fishing those underwater hard spots with stumps on them and the backsides of the grass will prove to be more productive tactics than trying to see and cast to the bass.

I’ll be relying on three baits this month. My No. 1 lure will be the Strike King Wild Shiner. Because the suspending Wild Shiner has received most of the publicity, many fishermen have overlooked the floating Wild Shiner. On cloudy, slick days, I’ll be fishing the Wild Shiner on the surface. I’ll let the bait float up, jerk it down and then allow it to float up again.

On windy days, I’ll keep the floating Wild Shiner under the surface, give it an erratic action and not let it come to the surface. I prefer to keep the Wild Shiner as close to a stump on a high spot as I possibly can to irritate those bedding bass into biting.

My favorite colors are gold/black back, chrome/black back and sexy shad. I’ll be casting it on 15- to 20-pound-test fluorocarbon line to get a quick hook set, and often foul-hook a bass, even if it doesn’t get the lure in its mouth.

The Strike King Caffeine Shad will be my second-choice bait. You can cast this bait and twitch it like a soft-plastic jerkbait. Most people don’t realize that this lure produces the best action when you kill the bait and let it fall.

I’ll cast the Caffeine Shad, twitch it up to the spot where I think the bass are holding, dead-stick the bait (kill the lure) and then let it fall. The bait shimmies and vibrates as it sinks to the bottom. Because the Caffeine Shad is made of a very soft plastic, as soon as you feel the bite, set the hook. If you don’t, the bass will swallow the bait, because the Caffeine Shad feels natural to them.

My favorite color is KVD Magic, which is a green-pumpkin color with a light pearl belly and blue flecks in it. I also like watermelon/red and black. These colors are more of a bluegill pattern, and that’s what the bass in Toledo Bend prefer to bite this month.

My third lure selection for April will be a Strike King Rage Craw on a Carolina rig. I like a 3-foot-long leader on my Carolina rig, regardless of the water depth. If I’m fishing in 4 feet or less water, and there’s not much wind, I’ll use a 1/2-ounce Tru-Tungsten slip sinker up the line. If the wind’s high, I’ll throw a 3/4-ounce Tru-Tungsten slip sinker. I’ll be using 20-pound-test fluorocarbon as my main line and 20-pound-test fluorocarbon line as my leader. The bass aren’t generally leader-shy at this time of year on Toledo Bend.

I’ll put two beads between my sinker and my barrel swivel, so I can get more of a clicking sound as I drag the Carolina-rigged bait along the bottom. The cloud of mud that the sinker makes as it moves on the bottom and the clicking sound of the beads attract the bass.

I prefer the standard-size Rage Craw, and one of my favorite colors is summer craw, a green-pumpkin color with a chartreuse belly. On a bright, sunny day without much wind, I like watermelon/red. I also like watermelon and green pumpkin.

Using these techniques on Toledo Bend Reservoir this month can produce a bass-fishing day of a lifetime.

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