Grand Point bass angler Matthew Hymel and I were anticipating a sunny sky and warming temperatures as we launched at Bayou Segnette, but by the time we got to the Tank Ponds on the west side of Lake Cataouatche it was obvious the clouds weren’t going anywhere. We both silently wondered if we would even get a bite.
Only two days before, Hymel fished the Tank Ponds without a single bite. The water temperature had risen from 42 to 50 on Thursday (Jan. 27) while he was in there, and we were seriously hoping the predicted warm weather would bump up the water temperature enough to turn on the bass.
“There was some activity in here the other day,” Hymel recalled with a hint of optimism in his voice. “Lake Cataouatche is one of those kinds of places where you can zero one day and catch 15 pounds the next. I zeroed on Thursday, so maybe today is the 15-pound day.”
Our plan was to slow-roll spinnerbaits, and pull XCalibur One Knockers and Strike King Red Eye Shads along the edge of a flat where Hymel knew the water dropped off into a little bit deeper water. He couldn’t help pointing out that we were probably just a couple weeks early for the best bite, but there’s only so long a bass angler can wait.
As per the regulations, Hymel trimmed his big motor all the way out of the water and dropped his trolling motor before passing through the tires. We fished our way back to a narrow canal in the southwestern corner of the Tank Ponds with only one swing-and-a-miss.
By the time we reached the deeper water in the canal, Hymel and I were wishing all the clouds would hightail it out of town. However, the one bit of good news we gathered trolling across the Tank Ponds was that at 48, the water was 6 degrees warmer at its coldest than it had been on Thursday. It was 51 by the time we reached the canal.
Hymel threw a homemade spinnerbait that he put together with components bought at Z’s Tackle in Lutcher the night before. It had a blue, white and chartreuse flat rubber skirt with orange tandem blades. I was throwing a chartreuse-and-white tandem-blade Mr. Hooty spinnerbait with the main blade a fluted Indiana.
Before I knew it, Hymel was up one to nothing on me as a 4-pounder sucked in his spinnerbait after he let it flutter down the edge of the little drop we were fishing. After his third fish in about 25 minutes, Hymel wondered if I had learned anything about his orange blade.
Luckily for me, he had made two spinnerbaits before our trip. I tied on the other, and put at least one fish in the boat while Hymel added two more. Four or five boats fishing around us seemed perplexed as to how we were catching bass while they did little more than haul water.
Smoking them would be a little bit of an overstatement, but Hymel and I were successful in that his little bit of something different with the orange blade turned what could have been a skunk into decent day on the water.
As we trolled back to the tires, 4- and 5-pound bass were literally jumping out of the water out in the open water of the Tank Ponds. We tried lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits, soft sinking stick baits, chatter baits and even Zara Spooks. They wouldn’t eat any of it.
“Can’t believe those fish didn’t bite,” Hymel later lamented back at the dock. “Give them a couple weeks, though, and you won’t be able to keep those fish off your baits … but who wants to wait that long when you can get out here and catch a few right now.”
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