Target shallow water at Toledo bend

Well, just when you say one thing probably will happen, Mother Nature proves you wrong.

I thought a month or two ago there would be no way there’d be water in the bushes for the spawn in March and April at Toledo Bend. Then the rains came.

On Feb. 19, Toledo Bend’s pool level was 169.36. Three days later, it was 171.60.

In late February, it was at 172.65 and rising. Sabine River Authority officials have all 11 gates open a foot and generators running 24/7 trying to keep up.

That’s 3 feet more water in the pond than three weeks ago. So my prediction flopped.

As for bass fishing prospects, it’s Katy bar the door. The outlook’s appealing because the bite will be crazy in April. Bass will scatter into the acres of flooded country around the bushes and cypress trees as they charge to the bank — but they’re there for those who love to flip bushes and get skinny.

The drawback is the creeks are muddy . And eventually the stained water will move out to the main lake when the water recedes. When that happens, logs, plywood and other debris will flow with it, so boaters must take extra caution.

Before I talk about how to catch the bass, please heed this: I can’t preach catch-and-release enough, and I emphasize it at this time of year — the spawn. You don’t have to take a trophy-sized bass home, wrap it up and put it in the freezer to get a mount from a taxidermist.

For example, two years ago I was guiding a couple, and the man caught a 9.1-pounder — a beauty that looked every bit of 10 pounds — on a Carolina-rigged soft plastic in about 8 feet of water. We put it in the livewell for 10 or 15 minutes so it could calm down while the husband and wife decided what to do.

I told them it wouldn’t be eligible for a free mount in the Toledo Bend Lunker Program, so I advised them to measure it, weigh it, get its girth, photograph it and get a replica mount made.

They decided to do that and that big ol’ girl was released to live, make babies and fight again.

You can do that with any lunker you are proud of, maybe a 6-pounder or even a 3-pound-plus crappie.

Unlike last April (the toughest spring ever for me with the pool level in the 167-range), bass anglers will have the opportunity to fish flooded bushes to their heart’s content.

The April bass bite should be good. You can do a lot of pitching and flipping in and around those bushes and anything on the bottom. Bass will be on their beds in April, and it’ll be prime time to catch them on Carolina-rigged soft plastics, Flukes, wacky worms, Senkos and other soft plastics.

Chatterbait-style artificial lures and swim jigs that can be bounced off the bottom and worked through and over the grass are sure to trigger strikes. And assuming the water temperature is in the 70s and fish will be shallow doing their thing, plastics frogs such as Top Toads — whatever your favorite might be — are going to be effective even if you can’t see a lily pad or other vegetation. Don’t hesitate to throw one — white, black or watermelon/red, depending on the water color — because bass on their beds will annihilate it.

While many, many bass anglers will be targeting bass in the brush and shallows inside grasslines, I’ll spend much of my time on ridges, at least to start an outing. There will be fish on the ridges, too — some of them spawning before they ever get to the bushes.

If you want to catch bass in April, I’ve been guiding on this lake most of my life and you’re more than welcome in my boat. Give me a call at (936) 404-2688.

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About John Dean 62 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.

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