How to find bass in the Atchafalaya Basin

Boo Grizzaffi of Morgan City holds a bass he just caught on the Stephensville side of the East Atchafalaya Basin Protection Levee.

The Stephensville side is your best bet

Unless the lower Spillway turned on in late July, at least one Morgan City bass angler will be fishing on the other side of the East Atchafalaya Basin Protection Levee in August.

As of July 5, bass fishing success was spotty for some reason in the Atchafalaya Basin, many say from as far up as the Bayou Benoit area all to way to Morgan City. Grass was all but gone in key areas like Flat Lake, which was an unpleasant surprise to many bassers when the nation’s last great overflow swamp dropped to a fishable level.

With catches at probably an all-time low at the time for the Morgan City area of the Spillway, Bill McCarty is pretty confident in his patterns on the other side of the Spillway, the Stephensville side, which includes the outer trees in Lake Verret and Lake Palourde as well as the points in Bayou Melhomme and Belle River. Also try Four Mile Bayou and Grassy Lake: All are in close proximity to Morgan City.

Those lakes definitely have promise and a proven track record, even in August. How’s that? An estimated 1.2 million Florida bass were released by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in Lake Verret, Lake Palourde and Grass Lake from 1993 to 2011.

However, genetic samples taken in 2016 indicated the Florida gene in only 6 percent of the bass.

Florida bass or native bass, the fish should be there.

McCarty, an all-around outdoorsman, said first thing in the morning he’ll target one of those lakes and fish with a ½-ounce white or black/white buzzbait in the best water color he can find, a “pretty green” with a visibility of 10 to 12 inches.

He’ll concentrate on finding that color water wherever he goes on the east side of the levee, in lakes and natural bayous.

After the sun gets up over the trees, he’ll switch to a 3/8- or ½-ounce chartreuse/white spinnerbait with a yellow soft plastic trailer, which he said for years has been a trigger for bites in those areas. McCarty likes models with big willow leaf blades, a No. 2 or No. 3 blade in the front and a No. 5 blade in the back, he said.

If there isn’t much action on the spinnerbait, or the action tails off, he’ll go back over the same area he just fished with a chartreuse/black Bandit 200 series crankbait, one of his favorite go-to artificial lures, and bang it off stumps and any other structure, he said.

Later in the morning, he’ll target points and other prime areas along stretches of Bayou Melhomme and Belle River with a 7 ½- or 8-inch tequila or red shad plastic worm.

If bass turn up their nose at some of those offerings, McCarty said he’s had beaucoup success fishing with white or shad-colored Flukes on a weighted head.

About Don Shoopman 556 Articles
Don Shoopman fishes for freshwater and saltwater species mostly in and around the Atchafalaya Basin and Vermilion Bay. He moved to the Sportsman’s Paradise in 1976, and he and his wife June live in New Iberia. They have two grown sons.