Bass-fishing success at Chicot Lake, nestled in the hills of Chicot State Park north of Ville Platte, has been like a time bomb, ready to explode.
All that needs to happen is for state park officials to reopen it to the public. Chicot State Park, Bayou Segnette State Park and Lake Bistineau State Park were tagged as regional medical staging areas, intended for people waiting on test results for coronavirus who couldn’t be sent home. Those quarantined have been living in the state park’s rental cabins and mobile homes.
Chicot State Park, which provides public access to the lake with three boat ramps, was closed to the public March 18. State-park officials, angler Andre Oliver of Eunice said recently, closed the front gate, and that was the end of that.
“We haven’t been able to fish it for about a month-and-a-half now,” he said.
Oliver, 31, was chomping at the bit to fish Chicot, hopefully starting in late May and for sure in June. So were hundreds of other bass anglers.
“I know when it opens back up, it’s going to be on fire,” Oliver said.
Why? The lack of fishing pressure for such an extended period will make a big difference in the bite, he said. The lake’s bass haven’t been bombarded by lures day after day after day.
“Typically, it gets a lot of fishing pressure starting in May,” said Oliver, who has been fishing the 2,000-acre lake since the mid-2000s. His two biggest bass were both close to 9 pounds, one in August 2015 and the other in March 2018.
Oliver has learned where, how and when to target bass with the most-effective lures. June, one of his favorite months, is when he relies mostly on a black buzzbait with a black blade
After wearing out the bass in the weeks before the state park’s closure on a homemade, bladed jig, a hand-tied chartreuse/white hair-jig skirt, silver-bladed Calcutta Jig made in Opelousas, Oliver has been biding his time to get back in there with his trusty all-black 3/8-ounce Chunk Buster buzzbait.
“Typically, from this time on, I throw a Chunk Buster all the way into October. It’s made by a guy in Shreveport. He makes a really good buzzbait,” he said.
If it’s a bluebird sky, he’ll change to a white buzzbait, he said.
“I kill them on that buzzbait no matter what time of year. It’s easy to target,” he said.
On days when bass might turn up their noses at the buzzbait — or heavy vegetation discourages its use — he’ll tie on a green pumpkin/silver Cooyon Croaker, a frog bait made by Cajun Lures in Nunez.
Oliver concentrates on the southern end and midsection of Chicot and rarely fishes up past the Ski Lake area.
“We fish in there, too, before the grass gets too bad,” said Oliver, who prefers to fish in the Turtle Island area and the “Community Hole” near the bridge.
“Where I like to fish, basically, is where the boat lane ends. I keep on trucking. I love that place. Cypress trees mixed with tupelo trees. Two things I’m looking for that time of year … duckweed and cypress trees with hydrilla around them. Bass get up under the duckweed and wait.”
Oliver ties the Cooyon Croaker to 30- or 40-pound Power Pro braid, noting that when a bass hits the frog, it’s a violent strike.
When he’s fishing around cypress trees and hydrilla, Oliver’s approach involves a weightless, Texas-rigged Senko-style soft plastic — either a Cajun Lures Baton Jr. or a Big Bite Baits Can Stick — fished on spinning tackle with 20-pound braid and a 14-pound fluorocarbon leader. A spinning combo, he explained, allows him to skip the soft-plastic stickbait up under the branches.
The average depth he fishes is anywhere from 1 foot to 5 feet and as deep as 8 feet. On overcast days, he said, anglers can stay shallow and still catch plenty of good-sized bass.