Poor conditions can’t slow CLECO bite

Wouldn’t it be something if there were a lake that offered near perfect bass fishing conditions during the winter? It would attract anglers like San Diego attracts residents. This fantasy isn’t as far fetched as it sounds, though, because Lake Rodemacher (a.k.a. CLECO Lake) near Alexandria offers 75-degree water even during the coldest months of the year.

CLECO is a 3,000-acre lake that is operated under the power company’s rules and jurisdiction. The lake serves as a cooling reservoir for the plant’s two generating units, and the water that is used to cool the plant runs back out in the lake. The neat thing is that the heat from the plant has been transferred to this water, which in turns warms the lake as it mixes back with the cooler lake water.

I had the opportunity to try CLECO Lake this past weekend with Porter Trimble, host of the Southern Woods & Water television show. If there were ever a time to prove that this lake could produce under the most dismal of conditions, this was it. Thirty inches of rain hit central Louisiana the week before my trip, and the lake was high and muddy.

We started out in the hot-water chute, and quickly picked up a couple of fish on blue/chartreuse and splatter back Bandit 200-Series crankbaits. These fish weren’t very big, though, so Trimble suggested we move into the cool-water section of the lake and hit some shallow wood to see if we could get a bigger bite.

A little section Trimble referred to as “Slot Alley” produced a few undersized fish and a couple of slot fish. The area was nothing more than a line of brush about 20 feet off the bank, but you could tell there were several small fish living there. The fish kept attacking our crankbaits, but they started getting smaller and smaller, so we began pitching soft plastics to log jams in the southeast corner of the lake.

Trimble quickly picked up a slot fish on a Texas-rigged Paca-Craw, and I quickly added one on a Brush Hog. The bass were holding tight to the wood cover with their noses seemingly pressed against the wood. A precise presentation coupled with a do-nothing retrieve began to produce some decent fish. Shallow wood and flooded reeds became our primary flipping targets.

We wound up expanding our search, and caught several slot fish on a variety of lures. Along with the Okeechobee Craw Paca-Craw and watermelon/green/orange Brush Hog, we picked up some fish on an Alabama Craw Zoom Ultravibe Speed Craw. Trimble also called up a few bites by twitching a soft-sinking stickbait just under the surface in some very shallow pockets.

Trimble expects the bite to pick up as the water settles down and clears back up a little. A prime pattern to look for in the coming weeks is dragging a Carolina-rigged chartreuse pepper centipede on the points in the hot water chute. These fish tend to run a little small, but they can provide some hot action on a cold day.

You can read more about CLECO Lake in the December issue of Louisiana Sportsman.

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 chrisginn.com.