Thanksgiving in July at Turkey Creek

Work lily pads more effectively this summer, and you’ll put bunches of bass in the boat.

Fishing in this hot, July weather is tough without shade. So I’ve picked one of the coolest lakes in the state — Turkey Creek, located just outside of Wisner in the east-central part of the state.

At this time of year, the farmers already have planted their fields, which means less run-off that causes the lake to be stained. Turkey Creek has plenty of vegetation and an abundance of cypress trees for shade. You can’t run with your boat on plane in much of this 6- to 10-foot-deep lake.

Also, at Turkey Creek, you won’t see any jet-skiers, water skiers or people just riding in boats. Any boats will have fishermen in them.

Turkey Creek is probably one of the best-kept bass secrets in Louisiana, and it holds plenty of quality bass in the 3- to 5-pound range. You also have a chance to catch bass over 8 pounds in this lake.

What to fish where

On this lake, you can fish topwater lures all day because of the cypress trees’ shade. The baitfish and the bugs relate to the surface of the water. I’ve fished topwater lures from before daylight until after dark on this lake, and caught bass even in the middle of the day. My favorite lure here is a 1/4- or 3/8-ounce buzz bait around the cypress trees.

The lake has dark water in it, but overall, it’s a clear lake. Because of the shade, I’ll probably be fishing a black buzz bait on 20-pound-test Gamma fluorocarbon line, and casting a 6-foot, 9-inch Quantum PT Tour Edition Signature Series Kevin VanDam spinnerbait rod.

If I don’t catch the number or the size of bass I want, I’ll switch to the double-willowleaf Strike King Premier Plus spinnerbait in the Tennessee shad or smoking-shad color, a natural-looking spinnerbait because the water’s really clear. I’ll fish it around the bases of cypress trees in 4- to 7-foot-deep water.

Also, in heavy shade, I like the Rage Frog, which will get plenty of action all day, and you can watch a big bass blow up on it.

If there’s some wind, I’ll fish a plastic that swims, like the new Strike King Space Monkey or flip the trees with the new Strike King Rodent. I’ll use a 1/4- or 3/8-ounce sinker. The Space Monkey looks just like a live frog swimming in the water. If you fish it around the sides of the cypress trees, the bass will go ballistic.

If the water’s dark, I prefer junebug, but if the day and the water are clear, I’ll fish the watermelon-colored Space Monkey by pitching it out, letting it fall to the bottom, then hopping it twice off the bottom and bringing it back up to make another pitch.

The Rodent is the opposite of the Space Monkey, and has no motion or action but rather glides through the water. For non-aggressive bass, I’ll give them the Rodent, a finesse-type lure that can be fished on heavy tackle, by flipping the bait and hopping it off the bottom. But if that doesn’t work, I’ll swim it around the root balls of the trees.

Most of the time when you think of a finesse lure, you think about a drop-shot or a shaky-head worm that’s usually fished on 8-pound-test line and spinning tackle. But if you use that type of tackle in Turkey Creek, the bass will break your line, keep your lures and make you lose your religion.

By fishing the Rodent in watermelon, green-pumpkin, junebug and black-neon colors, I still can fish with 20-pound-test line and have that subtle finesse presentation that will make the bass bite that don’t want to bite.

My fall-back tactic will be to fish the grass mats where the bass are searching for shade and will be buried up under that grass. I’ll key on the mats created out in the middle of the lake, where the grass hangs up on logjams and around the bases of the cypress trees. I’ll either swim a Rage Toad around the edges of that grass, or I’ll break into the bass’s house by using a 3/4- or 1-ounce slip sinker and punching through that mat with a Rodent.

I prefer the Rodent for this type of grass-mat fishing because it will slide through the holes, and the lead will punch through without getting hung-up. Since the bass holding under mats like this aren’t very active, the strikes you get are reaction strikes, and generally will take place as soon as the Rodent drops in front of the bass’s face.

Follow the Rodent with your rod tip as it goes through the grass, and set the hook as fast and as hard as you can when the bass takes the bait. Toward the end of July, those deeper grass mats may pay off better than fishing under the trees as the bass move out into the lake.

Turkey Creek is shaped like a bowl, deepest in the middle (10 feet) and more shallow on the sides. Since Turkey Creek bass will bunch up during July, when you catch one bass from an area, a mat or a tree, make several more casts to that same target. You may pull four or five bass out of that spot.

At Turkey Creek, you can fish in peace and quiet during July.