D’Arbonne a safe bet for December

Sixth-grader Seth Kile has the hunting bug, and he came by it naturally.

D’Arbonne Lake, near Farmerville, is really unique because it holds three different types of bass — the main-lake bass that relate to the drop-offs, ledges and creek channels and remain in deep water all year; the shallow-water bass that stay shallow all year and never live in water deeper than 5 feet; and the typical reservoir bass you find in other sections of the country that live out on the main lake, migrate into the shallow water during the spawning season, move out to deep water after the spawn and spend some time in the same shallow water during the winter, where they’ll spawn later in the spring. At this time of year, a good number of bass generally will be in shallow water on D’Arbonne. The good news about this lake is that it suits any bass fisherman’s style of fishing. You can target shallow-water or deep-water bass and catch them both. Also, D’Arbonne is a lake where you can catch the bass of a lifetime. Since the rut’s starting, everyone will be deer hunting, and few people will be bass fishing.

December is the time of year when the weather finally cools off, and our state gets some cold fronts. All the bass that have been holding out on the creek and the river ledges during the summer months are now starting to move up onto the flats, and they’ll be chasing shad. On some days, the bass will be up on the flats feeding on shad, and on other days, they’ll be out on the creek channels.

Weather will dictate where the bass will be concentrated. For instance, if Louisiana is still having warm days in December, I’ll be fishing lipless crankbaits, like the Red Eye Shad or the Diamond Shad, in shad colors up on the flats. I’ll also be using a Strike King Series 3, if the weather’s warm and the bass are out on the flats. I’ll be keying in on isolated grass clumps, because bass will be using those types of points in December. On warm days, the bass probably will be holding in 3 to 5 feet of water.

I’ll be fishing 16-pound-test Gamma fluorocarbon line. If I’m fishing regular crankbaits, I’ll be using either 12- or 14-pound-test fluorocarbon line. You have to be versatile in your fishing at this time of year.

In December, the water temperature can range from the mid-60s to the low 50s for the most part, and the air temperature may be 70 degrees or 50 degrees. The warmer the water, the more I’ll concentrate my fishing from the surface to 4- or 5-feet deep. The colder the water, the closer I’ll be fishing to the bottom.

If I’m fishing the bottom, I’ll be using a jig, like a black/blue 3/8- or 1/2-ounce Denny Brauer’s Premier Pro-Model Jig. Normally, the water will have enough color in it that I can either fish 20-pound fluorocarbon or 50-pound braided line.

I won’t be just flipping the jig at this time of year. I’ll be flipping and retrieving it, so I’ll be using a 7-foot Quantum PT heavy-action rod with a Quantum PT burner reel. I want a fast-retrieve reel because at this time of year, if the bass are biting lightly, you want to pick up the slack in your line quickly to get a good hookset. Many times you’ll get pressure bites, which means the bite will feel almost like you’re hung in the grass. That’s when you need to pick up the slack quickly and set the hook.

I’ll also fish a finesse worm on a jighead for bottom fishing, which is usually its most productive on D’Arbonne this month, when the water’s 50 degrees or less.

Don’t overlook the buzz bait in December, especially if D’Arbonne has several days of warm weather. I fish the buzz bait all day during December if the weather’s stable.

This month, stable weather is more important than warm weather for fishing the buzz bait. If the weather stays in the 60-degree range for four or five days, the bass will continue to come up to the surface and crush the buzz bait, especially at the first of December.

In 2004, I finished second in a B.A.S.S. tournament on Ouachita River, which wasn’t far from D’Arbonne Lake. The buzz bait was my dominant lure in this tournament. I watched the weather report all the way up until the day of the tournament, and the weather was staying stable. So even though the lake had cool weather, because the weather was staying stable, the bass were still coming up and eating the buzz bait.

Cold weather this month will cause the bass to pull back away from the deep water and move to the edges of the flats. They may not pull all the way out to the edges of the creek channels, but they will be holding on ditches that come off the main creek channel. At this time of year, the bass will hold on big stumps or grass, which you’ll still be able to find on the edges of the creek channels at D’Arbonne.

If you want to catch a lot of bass or big bass, Lake D’Arbonne is your best bet in December.