Take a bite out of Crackerhead bass

Barry Henry smiles as he holds a nice-sized bass caught on a cold winter’s day in the Crackerhead area of Lake Verret while fishing with Bill McCarty of Morgan City.
Barry Henry smiles as he holds a nice-sized bass caught on a cold winter’s day in the Crackerhead area of Lake Verret while fishing with Bill McCarty of Morgan City.

There’s a network of canals due east across Lake Verret from the Shell Beach area where the bass fishing turns on in January.

The Crackerhead area gives up bass at this time of year as many of them leave the lake looking for warmer waters in the maze of deadend location canals. The big girls get in there with spawning intentions in a region that boasts some of the earliest prespawn and spawning action in the country.

No one knows that better than Bill McCarty of Morgan City, who has caught his share of 5-plus pounders in the Crackerhead.

“Bigger fish get into the Crackerhead canals off Lake Verret. There’ll probably be some good ones caught up there this year,” he said. “There’s a lot more pressure than there used to be, but it still produces.”

Some access points include Attakapas Boat Landing on Highway 41 in Assumption Parish, the Spunky Monkey Boat Ramp on the western side of Lake Verret, the Bayou Corne Boat Landing and Doiron’s Boat Landing off Highway 69. Boaters are advised that strong south or north winds make the lake very rough, so caution is necessary.

McCarty, an all-around outdoorsman who owns WHM Services LLC, said the key to getting on the fish is to find the prettiest, warmest water possible — and then fish with a variety of proven artificial lures in the Crackerhead.

“When it’s 56, 57 degrees, they usually start eating pretty good,” he said, noting often the water warms up in the midday hours, which means it isn’t imperative to get out there in the first few hours of the day.

Most of the canals, he said, have ledges that the bass move up on. On a warm day, they can be caught from the surface to 3 feet on those ledges. After a cold front, or if the water temperature is in the lower-50s or upper-40s, bass move deeper and can be caught away from the ledges.

His go-to artificial lures start with a watermelon/red or june bug Zoom Brush Hog or, if the bass are being pressured heavily, a similarly colored Speed Craw. With a lot of fishing pressure, he said, bass often pass up big baits.

His other favorites are 3/8- or ½-ounce jig-n-pig combinations in black/blue or black/blue/chartreuse. He uses Lucky Strike Jigs if he can find them, or else ties on a Strike King Hack Attack jig.

Another top producer is the popular gold/orange Rogue or Redfin.

And McCarty always has a follow-up bait handy for those swings and misses, a june bug Yumdinger, which he said works well. ,

He said he’ll definitely be in one or more of those canals this month.

“It’s a really good place for a kicker fish in a tournament. Some 18-pound bags come out of there,” he said.

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About Don Shoopman 420 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.