Tchefuncte River bass action heats up

The warmer waters found in dead ends are inviting to bass right now. (Photo courtesy Sam Jenkins)

Seize the moment to catch these tricky river largemouths

The Tchefuncte River often brings a bout of bass fishing heartburn when brought into conversation. Its wide channel boasting endless branches and cuts of beauty draws unsuspecting anglers in only to leave them perplexed at the end of the day with little in the livewell to justify a day of hard fishing. Tidal movement, an abundance of natural bait, pleasure boaters, and other contributing factors make it one of the most difficult rivers to fish on the Northshore.

With every storm, however, a ray of light penetrates the darkness. For Tchefuncte River action, the ray of light is shining, but will not last forever. The bass are stacking up to spawn and with the river seeing minimal traffic, local bass addicts should be launching any chance they get. According to Sam Jenkins of Abita Springs, a bass tournament competitor, now is the time to seize the moment.

Dead ends

While most periods throughout the year on the Tchefuncte seem to yield fish from the mouths of canals meeting the main channel, Jenkins said this time of the year the strategy is different. Bass hunters should penetrate those canal entrances and seek the dead end.

“Look for any dead ends,” he said. “The further back you go, the warmer the water.”

According to Jenkins, those warmer waters are inviting bass preparing to spawn. Those canals offering dead ends, however, can be elusive. Man-made canals, like those newly formed to provide entrance to marinas and boat slips, offer less opportunity in location for bass to spawn. While they prefer natural versions and oxbows, canals fabricated by man can offer results at time. Contributing factors influence the action.

“Sometimes you can find pea gravel or some of that old driveway stone out off the banks,” Jenkins said. “That’s a great place for the bass to bed up.”

Jenkins said that spawning bed locations are not always easy to detect. His methodology includes covering a span of water.

“You have to fish the dirt,” he said.

Go-to bait

Jenkins’ go-to bait for this time of year is a white and chartreuse chatterbait that he likes to “bump across the bottom.” He casts all the way to the bank and lands the bait in the dirt and reels it back over the drop off to the boat, hopefully bringing it right over moody bass having no tolerance for interruption.

“If I swing and miss, I follow up with an alternate,” he said.

If he sees a swirl in the water but fails to entice a strike, Jenkins throws right back over the target zone with a Texas rigged Senko worm. If the chatterbait fails to grab the attention, the Senko typically prevails as more than the bass can ignore.

Tidal movement has big influences on the Tchefuncte River. Failing to identify that perfect window normally sends bass anglers back to the launch feeling defeated. Jenkins said the window has opened where the tide does not levy such a significant impact this time of year.

“Look, I would prefer to fish a falling tide,” Jenkins said, “but here you’re bed fishing so it is different.”

Before the traffic on the river grows congested as summer approaches, now is the time to take advantage of the milder temperatures and warmer water. Sneak into those dead end tributaries and wake up the sleeping giants that bass anglers do not always get to see on the Tchefuncte.