This lake fell on hard times in the late 1990s, but it’s come back with a vengeance, giving anglers everything they could ever hope for.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This is the third installment of a 12-part series exploring the best bass-fishing areas in the Bayou State.
Jody Perrault and Travis Brown struggled to bring their sack of bass to the scales at the conclusion of the Bass Busters Team Trail kick-off tournament at Lake Concordia last February. The reason behind their struggle was evident when the scales finally settled on a weight — 37.33 pounds.
This wasn’t the only team that would besiege the scales on that day. David Cooper and Corky Ables punished the scale with five fish weighing 33 pounds to capture second place. Imagine catching 33 pounds of bass, and coming in second!
But the big-bass parade didn’t stop at second. Dale Jamison and Buzz Craft loaded 27.05 pounds of bass onto the scales for a third-place finish.
The jaw-dropping number of big bass brought to the scales that day was overwhelming. David Cooper had an 11.13-pound bass. Bo Straham and Ken Huff brought in a 9.69-pound lunker. Ronnie Gellespi came in with a 10.8-pounder.
This kind of action rarely happens on the professional tournament trails that visit some of the best bass lakes in the country. But this was no pro tournament. It was 15 teams that brought in over 200 pounds of bass in a single day. And, to top it off, it happened at a nondescript 1,100-acre Mississippi River oxbow lake in the Miss-Lou region.
Concordia Parish is famous for producing legendary people, like Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Swaggart. Concordia Parish is home to the Wells/Maddox duel that made Jim Bowie, and his knife, a legend.
Concordia Parish is now pumping out some more legends — double-digit bass that buckle knees and break rods.
The first thing that visiting anglers will notice about Lake Concordia is that there isn’t a lot of different types of cover. It comes down to cypress trees, boat docks and brushpiles.
According to veteran Concordia angler Eddie Roberts, property owners have stopped placing brushpiles right next to their docks. One way to find the hidden piles is to imagine somebody making as long a cast as they could from a dock, then look at where you imagine it would hit the water. Another good way to locate the piles is to turn your boat around from where you would normally position it to fish a dock and cast toward deep water rather than to the bank.
“There are also a lot of piles in this lake that aren’t related to the piers,” said Roberts. “If you really want to know the lake, I’d recommend you take a day and idle it with an eye on your electronics. Look for piles that are 10 feet deep or shallower because I’ve had piles placed deeper than that that never produced a fish. However, those piles started holding fish when I pulled them to 10 feet. Finding these piles is a good way to locate fish that aren’t as pressured as the shallow fish.”
The other workable cover on the lake is the trees and docks. While there are plenty of each, finding the few that produce fish can be a challenge.
“Take the docks for instance,” said Danny Smith, Bryan’s Marine Triton Team Member and accomplished Concordia angler. “You shouldn’t just go down a line of docks fishing them all.
“Maximize your time by fishing the ones that are different in some way. I like those that have more posts in the water and those that offer more shade because they have extra decking coming off the side. Also, the older docks generally produce better than the newer docks. That new wood they use puts off chemicals that turn the fish off for a while.”
The cypress trees are like the docks. There are so many of them it makes it difficult for anglers to decide which trees to fish. According to Roberts and Smith, particular trees are best depending on the season.
They explained how to find productive trees in their breakdown of the seasonal patterns.
The spring season at Concordia actually begins about the middle of February. In fact, Roberts has it pegged to a particular day.
“Those big bass will turn on every year on Feb. 15,” he said. “These fish have to be some of the earliest spawning fish in the state. The action is fast and furious for about three weeks. As we move on into March, the fishing remains excellent, but they have taken a pounding by then.”
The last two weeks of February into the first two weeks of March are considered lunker time on the lake. Roberts said the fishing turns on so quickly that anglers who come up empty one day are likely to score a 25-pound limit the next.
Bass have a number of spawning options, but the best-known area is the North Flats. This area gradually goes from 8 feet up to 5 then flattens out into a cypress-tree swamp. The flat is full of isolated cypress trees, stumps and laying logs.
However, after the flat has been pounded a while, anglers should expand their search to other places.
“Any angler who gets out on that flat and fan casts a Rat-L-Trap all the way to the back is subject to catch a double-digit fish,” said Roberts. “You can also go through there with a jig, flipping tube or a small creature bait like a ReAction Gator Pup, and catch some good ones. Black/blue and crawfish colors like black/brow/red and black/brown/orange are good jig colors, and watermelon red or watermelon orange are good plastic colors.”
Roberts also relies on the small, two-hook Rattlin’ Rogue to catch spawning fish on cypress trees. He recommended fishing it in the openings around the trees because the fish aren’t actually spawning on the trees. Rather, they spawn out in the lanes and alleys where the sunlight can reach their beds. They hold on a nearby tree to keep watch over their nest and will charge out to blast the Rogue.
“Once the spawn is over, you can go to a black neon flipping tube with a heavy sinker and pitch the trees in 3 to 5 feet of water on the inside of the lake,” Roberts said. “Another good post-spawn lure if you have the patience is something like a trick-worm, Slug-Go or weightless Gator Tail lizard. Fish them on the North Flats by letting them go to the bottom and counting to 20 before you ever move it. That’s as good a way as any to catch a 10-pound fish.”
The lunker bass season may wind down after the spring at Concordia, but there are still plenty 3- to 6-pound fish that are more than willing to eat during the summer.
“I like to throw a Zara Spook during the summer,” Smith said. “I usually don’t catch a bunch of fish on it, but I do catch big fish.
“It’s not just a morning bait either. I’ll throw it all day long if they’re on it. One of the best ways to fish a Spook is to throw it around the cypress trees and bump the tree with the bait during the retrieve. They’ll usually be on the shady side.”
Roberts also likes to throw a walking bait during the summer. Only, his favorite method is a little more extreme. He uses a heavy Poe’s Jack Pot and “slam casts” it through low-hanging cypress limbs, and hopes for the best.
“That’s a great tactic when it’s really hot,” Roberts said. “The hotter the better in my opinion. That bait rally throws a lot of water, and it aggravates the stew out of them.
“Summer is also a great time to break out the crankbaits. I like a 7A Bomber in the baby bass/chartreuse belly color.”
Roberts uses the crankbait on the inside of the lake, where there is only one dock. He looks for breaks in the trees that line the bank, and fishes these breaks in 12 to 14 feet of water. He said the missing trees are lying at the bottom of the lake from when they fell over, leaving a jungle of laying logs, limbs and stumps.
“Just keep cranking until you bang into something,” he said.
Summer is also a good time to throw small topwaters like Pop-Rs and Chug Bugs, and 1/4-ounce bream-colored Rat-L-Traps. Night fishing isn’t great, but fish will eat a 3/4-ounce black spinnerbait with a 4-inch chartreuse pepper grub fished around shallow cover.
Concordia used to be loaded with coontail. It isn’t as prolific as it once was, according to Roberts, because of run-off from nearby cornfields.
“Those cornfields used to be cow pastures,” he said. “When they switched to corn, I noticed our grass starting to disappear.”
There is usually enough coontail in the upper third of the lake to make it a viable fall pattern, though. Roberts suggested fishing the outside edges of the grass with black buzz baits and on top of the grass with soft plastic frogs like the Ribbit.
“Fall is more of a numbers time than a lunker time,” Roberts said. “But you can catch a couple of big fish by working the deep grass on the north flats in about 7 feet of water. Let a Trap sink down to the grass and rip it out.”
Roberts noticed there was more grass in the lake last year than there was the year before. He hopes this trend continues into this coming fall.
Smith said he likes throwing a 1/4-ounce spinnerbait during the fall. He uses a No. 3 or 3 1/2 Colorado blade with a chartreuse/white skirt, and targets cypress trees and logs.
“I also catch some fish around the piers and trees during the fall on a Brush Hog,” he said. “Look for a shady area with a little wind. Concordia isn’t a real clear lake, but it is clear enough that the fish get spooky. The shade and wind help conceal your profile a little bit.”
Roberts and Smith say that anglers only need a couple lures to catch fish during the winter. The first is a jig, and the second is a Rat-L-Trap.
“I like a jig all year,” said Smith, “but it really shines during the winter because the fish are more lethargic. They’ll eat a jig, though, because it’s moving slow and resembles a crawfish. From everything I’ve read, a bass gets more bang for his buck with crawfish because of all the fat and oils and stuff.”
Roberts said one of the best jig retrieves during the winter is to throw it over a limb and yo-yo it right in their faces.
“I’ll pull it out of the water and bang it into a limb or root then let it drop back down,” he said. “If there’s a fish on that tree, he’ll eventually eat it. You can actually pull fish from two or three trees away doing this. They come in to see what the noise is all about, so don’t make one pitch and leave. Soak it on a tree a while, and you’ll get more bites.”
Winter is also a great time to fish the deeper brushpiles with a jig. Roberts said a Carolina rig would catch fish from the piles but that these would typically be small fish.
“Go with a heavy jig in those piles, and you’ll catch a big fish,” he said.
Roberts believes one of the worst mistakes an angler can make at Concordia is to keep moving down a bank after a missed strike.
“They’ll swing and miss on a fish that popped their jig and never get off the trolling motor,” he said. “That fish bit for a reason.
“One thing I’ve found that really helps me on Concordia is to keep fishing for about another 50 yards or so, then turn around and go back to where I missed that fish. This is a one-shot lake. You probably won’t get another chance right after you miss a fish. But if you come back about 30 minutes later, you’ll often get another chance at that fish.”
One thing Roberts wants anglers who do connect on that second chance to do if they hook up with a lunker is to take a picture and return that fish to the lake.
“The lake could get hurt this spring with all the fishing pressure and no slot-limit,” he said. “We need those fish back in the lake during the spring so they can complete the spawn. You can always get a replica made if you catch a trophy — compliments of Lake Concordia.”
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