Shallow cover is key to boating big bass at Toledo Bend

This 8-pound-plus bass fell for a Carolina-rigged Fluke on Alexandria bass angler Jack Godfrey’s last cast while fishing with John Dean on Toledo Bend.

April is going to be good for catching bass at Toledo Bend. Mark that down. This is their time of year, prime time, if you will.

I’m ready. I’m more excited by the warmer water than anything — temps in the 70s, perhaps low 80s — after so long with it in the 50s, or lower. That warm-up assures male and female bass will be doing their thing.

What we still haven’t had through the winter and into the spring is something badly needed — more water in the pond. Toledo Bend has been holding around 169 feet for a couple months, about three feet below pool. It doesn’t look like we’re going to get to full pool (172) but it should start climbing if the region gets ample rainfall in late March and April.

The unseasonably low water presents a challenge to bass anglers acclimated over the years to flippin’ and pitchin’ in and around flooded bushes and vegetation. But there is plenty of cover that just might pay off — the numerous docks up and down the lake. In many places it’s the only thing sticking in the water, especially shallow.

Docks and more docks

More and more bassers are concentrating their efforts on those docks, of which there are so many more as they’re being built at a mushrooming rate. Most of them have brushpiles for white perch around them, sometimes as many as 20 to 30 brushpiles. Bassmaster Elites and MLF BPT guys have shown the way in various tournaments livestreamed the last few years, skippin’ and flippin’ docks and their brushtops.

To me, April has always been the strong, most dominant month for springtime bass fishing success. It’s a transition month, a different ballgame from the chunk-and-wind of late February and March. The beds are made and it’s time for bass to be on them.

It’s a time for plastics, plastics and more plastics and the majority of mine will be Carolina-rigged with my favorite old grub or dark-colored Fluke. I’ll also have a Rogue tied on, just because, and a wacky rig setup, usually with a Senko.

My Carolina-rigged soft plastic will be thrown on all braid, i.e., no flourocarbon or monofilament leader. It’s that time of year, my friend, when double-digit bass historically are caught on this lake.

For that reason, I ain’t taking chances! I’ll have 40-pound green Power Pro braided line all the way, including a 2 ½ to 3-foot leader under a ½ or ¾-ounce weight on an 8-foot Heavy action fishing rod. I want No. 4 real bad. I really do need No. 4. By that, I mean my personal fourth 10-plus-pound bass. That 40 is perfect for the job.

Hit the ditches and ridges

I feel I’ll have my best chance at a double-digit bass again this month in 7- to 8-foot depths along ditches and ridges near breaklines. I believe the majority of bigger bites will be outside, although there are some big mamas in the 3 to 5 foot depths. Sure, there are bass in the backs of creeks and drains and along the banks, but those areas are getting hammered. I try to get out as much as I can by myself or with customers, away from the crowd but still with a good chance to get bit.

It wasn’t long ago this time of year that I had a chance at No. 4, one I estimated in the 12-pound class. It clamped down on the skin-hooked Fluke I was throwing on a C-rig while fishing a ridge away from Bassmaster Elite Series anglers prefishing in May 2016. Most of them were beating the banks but, luckily for me, the bass showed up on that ridge. Apparently the bass clamped its jaws tight on the Fluke, never getting hooked and ejected the soft plastic on its third head shake. I’ll never forget that fish.

Heading into the spring, we are seeing some scattered areas of hydrilla in Blue Lake above Pendleton Bridge on the Louisiana side and in the back of Housen. It’s some short stuff that I’ve been seeing predominantly in drains only.

Most of the cover actually in the water, aside from docks old and new, is far north in and around Circle Drive, where flippin’ has been successful for weeks. Other than that and the aforementioned grass, there is very little to throw at bushes or vegetation wise. So what’s a bass fisherman, or bass fisherwoman, to do? Best bet is find a ditch or drain that serves as a migratory route close to a breakline. Start in the deeper part of the drain and fish toward the breakline, keeping an eye on your marine electronics.


Like I said, I’ll throw a Carolina-rigged grub or Fluke most of the time when I’m targeting outside waters, staying in 7- to 8-foot depths for bites from bigger bass that tend to be a little deeper.

Put these on the top shelf of your tackle box. Senkos. Trick worms. Fluke-style baits. Tie them on. Watermelon/red, green pumpkin/red, June bug and black are the most popular colors now.

I’ve been guiding on this lake most of my life and you’re welcome in my boat. April should offer a good chance to catch some really nice Toledo Bend bass and especially a bragging-size bass. Give me a call at (936) 404-2688.

About John Dean 97 Articles
John Dean has been guiding on Toledo Bend most of his life. If you’d like to join him on a trip, give him a call at (936) 404-2688.