Giant salvinia forcing Caddo Lake anglers to change their game plan

Pitching and flipping may be the only option to fish spots clogged with salvinia.

Old dogs don’t learn new tricks.

This cliché reminds me of a bassin’ buddy with whom I fished Toledo Bend several years ago.

“If they don’t bite this jig, I ain’t gonna catch them,” he grumbled.

Unfortunately, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Anybody predicting they aren’t going to catch bass at Caddo Lake right now because of all the giant salvinia will be just as accurate in his or her assessment.

Take Simsboro bass tournament angler Sid Havard for example.

He has regularly reeled in one big bass after another on Rat-L-Traps for the last four winters in a row.

“Looks like I’m going to have to learn some new tricks this winter,” he lamented while looking over the mat of giant salvinia blanketing the south bank on the Texas side at the end of the high line.

It wasn’t so much that bass did not want to bite his Trap as it was his inability to get his bait below the matted salvinia.

Where it was scattered, he was able to steer his Trap through the open areas and pick up a fish or two.

Where it was matted, his Trap landed with a soft splat on top of the green obstacle.

“I’ve never seen it like this,” Havard continued to complain. “Looks like this Trap bite is history.”

Somewhat in disbelief, Havard continued to press forward with Trap in hand through his old “milk run” of five spots.

He discovered that the salvinia wasn’t as bad an obstruction in open areas like Big Green Brake where he likes to throw a Trap right down the middle of the boat run.

However, wherever he tried to fish smaller pockets, salvinia forced him to look elsewhere.

Even worse, Havard wasn’t even able to reach one of his spots because salvinia had blocked off the boat run so thickly that he didn’t even attempt to navigate it.

All this was enough to make this set-in-his-ways bass angler scramble to find some way to catch fish.

Picking up a flipping stick with a Texas rigged crawfish may not seem like much of a new trick at Caddo Lake, but the fact of the matter is that Trap anglers there rarely flip and flippers rarely throw Traps.

Havard returned to where he started at Big Green Brake where he rapidly began pitching to the bases of the cypress trees.

Bass didn’t want anything moving fast, though, and Havard realized that he was going to have to fish painstakingly slow after a 3-pounder bit the crawfish while it sat still on the bottom.

“Pitching and flipping is the only way I can see fishing spots socked in with salvinia,” he supposed. “This stuff is going to be a game changer when people show up in February expecting to fish all their old holes.”

Another option will be to figure out how to catch fish in open water where salvinia has trouble accumulating.

“Traps may still be the ticket out there,” Havard hoped, “but you’re gonna have to do a lot of fishing to figure out what holds bass in all that open water. Maybe you can find a ditch, an isolated patch of grass… something.”

The river on the Texas side is another possibility. In fact, while Havard and I struggled to get bit in the lake this past weekend, a friend of his went up the river and landed 27 bass on a medium diving crankbait.

“There was some salvinia up there, but he told me it was a lot easier to fish,” Havard concluded. “Pitching and flipping, figuring out how to fish that open water, or going up the river might be our only options this spring.”

These may not be the kinds of new tricks old dogs want to learn, but they are a lot better than self-fulfilling a prophecy of failure.

About Chris Ginn 778 Articles
Chris Ginn has been covering hunting and fishing in Louisiana since 1998. He lives with his wife Jennifer and children Matthew and Rebecca along the Bogue Chitto River in rural Washington Parish. His blog can be found at