Brett Preuett cut his teeth fishing the Ouachita River, and the Bassmaster Elite Series pro shares the secrets to catching bass on the winding waterway.
Louisiana’s Brett Preuett is living the dream. Or should we say, “Fishing the dream.”
But don’t worry: Even when somebody pinches him, he’s still there.
“There is no doubt about it: This is a dream come true for me,” the 23-year-old Monroe angler said.
The dream is traveling the country fishing in professional bass tournaments. He earned that right by winning the B.A.S.S. College Championship as a member of the University of Louisiana-Monroe fishing team.
That allowed him to fish in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic, and he was supplied a boat and truck to fish this past year on the pro trail.
He took advantage of the opportunity.
In his first year, Preuett earned the right to go back with a spot in the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series, and he is in the middle of that venture as you read this.
He’s on the road most of the time, but he occasionally gets to go home and back his boat into familiar waters — like the Ouachita River — and just go fishing for fun.
Well, it’s fun as much as it can be.
“Anytime I’m fishing, I’m learning,” Preuett said. “If I’m not, I’m not doing my job. My office is the front deck of my bass boat.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The good news for us is that Preuett loves sharing what he’s learned about fishing and his favorite bodies of water.
One of those is the Ouachita, which runs from the Louisiana/Arkansas border 90 miles down to south of Columbia. It can be a tough body of water to fish because of water level fluctuation, but the summer months are some of the best.
So let’s go through Preuett’s guide to summer bass-fishing success on the winding river.
First is keying on the best portions of the river.
“Some of my favorite areas to fish on the Ouachita River (include) the main river area 10 miles south and 10 miles north of the Forsythe Park in Monroe,” Preuett said. “There is a lot of structure to fish, including stumps, bridges, laydowns, cuts and shade that these Ouachita River bass like to hold on.”
He recommended just riding the river and stopping every time you see something that looks different.
“Also, the DArbonne Bayou area can be great for holding fish year round, with cypress trees, laydowns and lots of backwater areas,” Preuett added. “A bonus is the nice spotted bass on sandbars this time of year, so never rule them out.”
During the heat of summer, fish also often school around cuts and in river lakes. Fishing is best early and late, but because the water isn’t that clear you can catch fish almost any time of the day.
“You catch more early and late, but I have seen many times out there where the biggest fish come in the middle of the day on everything from topwaters to jigs,” Preuett said. “Never give up any time of the day.”
A summer morning on the river with the young angler starts with throwing topwater lures and buzz baits.
It’s a good bite, especially around laydowns and stumps.
He also looks for rock jetties and other concrete structure off of which he bounces square-billed crankbaits.
Even as the day goes on, the pro angler returns to the top with one of his favorite lures of all — the Spro Popping Frog.
“With the frog, you can throw it up in the shade of bushes, right up by the bank, or work it by structure farther out,” Preuett said. “It’s also a fun bait to catch fish on.”
Favorite colors are green tree, lepard, nasty shad and even white.
Other go-to lures include Strike King white-and-chartreuse buzz baits, the Creme Craw in black neon and green pumpkin, and black football jigs.
He also fishes a variety of pumpkin, black/blue and watermelon-colored plastic worms and creature baits.
And Preuett said you can never fish too shallow in the river — no matter what time of year.
He proved that by setting the hook on a 4-pounder that rushed into a foot of water by an old laydown to scoop up his bait.
“Don’t be afraid to fish in just inches of water, even in the summer, because where there is structure there will be bream and shad, and the (bass) are looking there for something to eat,” Preuett said. “There is plenty of oxygen out in the river, and fish don’t feel unprotected shallow.
“There is also a misconception that river traffic hurts fishing; that isn’t true.”
In fact, that traffic can actually result in bites.
“Lots of times, a boat will come by and make waves. That washes the baitfish and crawfish out, and the fish move up to the bank to feed,” Preuett said. “It just gets the fish a little fired up.”
Any watch-outs for fishing the Ouachita River?
“A common mistake is to avoid getting stuck on one type of structure, one type of bait or one area in the summer months,” Preuett advised. “The fish are going to be gathered up somewhere, and they are going to be biting, so just keep moving until you start getting bites.
“It’s also a good idea to hit areas more than once if you have had success.”
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