Keys to North Louisiana lunker bass

Would you like to get Sontus Mitchell’s top tips for catching lunker largemouths on five popular North Louisiana lakes and rivers?

No problem. Here’s what Mitchell recommends:

• Lake D’Arbonne — “One thing I definitely do this time of the year on D’Arbonne is throw a Smithwick Suspending Rogue,” Mitchell said. “I like the gold ones with black top and orange belly. Throw it around cypress trees, stumps, any kind of laydown or shallow brush top.

“Throw it out, reel it down, let it sit a few seconds, then jerk it. Repeat the process. The bait stays down in the strike zone long enough to trigger a strike. It works prespawn, during the spawn and post-spawn.”

• Lake Claiborne — “Claiborne is a lot like D’Arbonne, but smaller. What I do here is try the suspending Rogue, but also a square bill crankbait, Fluke or weightless Senko,” Mitchell said. “The weightless Senko can be the best. I rig it Texas style, without a weight, and also with a smaller hook wacky style.

“Wacky style is simply putting the hook in the middle of the bait and working it back to the boat in a hopping motion. I’d go into the coves, find the flats and fish near the north banks.”

• Black Lake (Campti) — “I love this lake in the spring,” he said. “Cypress trees — that’s where it’s at. There are hundreds of them, so finding the right ones is key.

“I concentrate on the ones in 3 to 5 feet of water using creature baits like the Sweet Beaver by Reaction Innovations. Fish it around the base of the cypress trees and cover the whole tree.”

It’s important to pay attention to where and how you get bites.

“As you catch fish, pattern what you are doing and you can save a lot of time fishing unproductive water,” Mitchell said. “With all the salvinia in the lake, the fish have moved from the banks and to the cypress root systems to spawn. They’ll stay there a long time, too. Other baits like big lizards, football jigs and anything that looks like a crawfish will work.

“After they move off the trees, they will regain their energy and feed on shad. At that point, you’ll want to throw square bill crankbaits or lures like the Rattletrap.”

• Red River (Shreveport) —  The challenge here is narrowing down the options.

“The Red River just has so much area to fish,” Mitchell explains. “I get away from the main river into the backwater areas, like ‘the Jungle’ and other popular areas like that.

“Fish big creature baits like the Brush Hog, big spinnerbaits and baits you can get up into the structure. Laydowns, stumps and anything in backwater 1 to 5 feet deep work for me. Crawfish color square bill crankbaits are good here, too, when the fish are relating to ditches, creeks, and a little more open water.

“Sometimes you can back out to the mouths of the creeks coming from the main river and find fish. Use your electronics there to locate fish and put big baits in front of the bass.”

• Caney Lake — Six of the Top 10 largest Louisiana largemouths have come from Caney Lake, so it gets a lot of pressure.

“No lake in the area has received as much attention for big bass as Caney,” Mitchell said. “This time of year, the bass tend to go up the creeks and hang out near the middles of the creeks. If it is a late spawn, the really big ones will spawn in 6 to 8 feet of water. After they spawn, they go to deeper flats and relate to structure on the bottom.

“Because of the relatively clear water, I like to use a white creature bait or something kind of bright. Sometimes you’ll get a hit from a big bass and it will be so light you can’t feel it, so I like to be able to see the bait when I can.

“Post-spawn they will head to tops and structure on points. You have to use your electronics to find them there. Go to big 7- to 10-inch plastic worms or big jigs with trailers.”

About Kinny Haddox 597 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.