Winter bite begins for Orange Grove bass

The first cool fronts create a feeding frenzy for Orange Grove bass, which are eager to put on winter weight in anticipation of the spawn.
The first cool fronts create a feeding frenzy for Orange Grove bass, which are eager to put on winter weight in anticipation of the spawn.

Backs of dead end canals should be active

Some of the best bass fishing before the onset of what passes for winter in South Central Louisiana isn’t far from Houma or Morgan City.

Bill McCarty knows that from years of hooking and boating bass during November in the Orange Grove area east of Bayou Black. The ¾-pound to 1 ½-pound bass in those waters usually are plentiful and willing to bite, according to the all-around outdoorsman from Morgan City, who also will be doing his share of bowhunting for deer on the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area.

McCarty pointed bass anglers to the myriad of dead end canals in the Orange Grove area, specifically the back 200 yards or so of a dead end. Look for canals with less current than others and for water clarity of 12 to 18 inches, ideally with grass beds or scattered grass beds.

“There’s a ton of dead end canals down there,” he said.

The Orange Grove area is located on the north side of the Intracoastal Waterway between Houma and Morgan City and on the north side by Bayou Black. It is just west of Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge, about 12 miles west of Houma.

“Typically, the first few cold fronts get them started, gets the water stirring,” he said, noting the bass start a feeding frenzy to put weight on for the winter and the spawn, which really is only a few months away.

Try to fish an outgoing tide, he advised, adding that he uses Shell Island as the tide reference point and adds an hour to that time.

Over the past few decades, McCarty finds that small profile Lucky Strike and Humdinger spinnerbaits are deadly when bassin’ in the area each November. He said a 3/8- or ¼-ounce white, chartreuse/white or chartreuse/green/white spinnerbait with double willowleaf blades, or a Colorado/willowleaf combination, are hard to beat.

If a bass swings and misses on a spinnerbait retrieve, a reliable comeback bait is a green pumpkin Yumdinger, McCarty said, noting that he adds a little chartreuse dye to the tail — an addition the fish apparently love.

There’s another reason he thinks highly of the Orange Grove area in November. After catching so many bass, he turns his attention to sac-a-lait.

He consistently hooks and boats sac-a-lait on Lucky Strike jigs in blue/white and smoke/white fished 24 to 30 inches under a cork, he said.

Much of the time the sac-a-lait there are located along drop-offs about 4 feet off the shoreline. Also try pearl/chartreuse, black and chicken-on-a-chain Wedgetail Crappie Minnows.

McCarty knows putting some slabs in the boat is a heckuva way to polish off a bass fishing trip to the Orange Grove area.

About Don Shoopman 556 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.