Bassmaster Classic anglers hoping for winter like 2009 at Lake Cataouatche

Because of its proximity to the Classic launch site at Bayou Segnette State Park and its reputation for giving up 10-pound bass this time of year, it’s going to be difficult for some tournament competitors to pass up Lake Cataouatche.

However, things aren’t always as they appear.

“It changes every year since they cut the water on,” said local bass tournament angler Lucas Ragusa. “The grass does different things. A couple years ago, the whole lake grassed up. Last year they beat it back with chemicals. How good Cataouatche is in February will depend on how much the grass grows.”

Davis Pond pumped most of 2010 because of the oil spill, and a lot of grass has actually started growing in Lake Salvador. The entire area is freshening up more and more every year, so the likelihood of there being grass and bass only in Cataouatche is slim.

“If it stays mild through January and early February, some grass will stick around,” Ragusa added. “If the diversion is pumping out cold water from the river, it will kill it out pretty quick along with the ducks and coots. If all this good grass dies out, then it’s a matter of how much grows back by the Classic. Who knows where the grass or the bass will actually be.”

As long as this remains a mild winter, Ragusa says anglers may find the exact conditions that created the bass smash of two years ago. Back then there was a mild January and February, and the warm water and grass combination in the shallow northern part of Cataouatche and the Tank Ponds produced ideal conditions.

Cataouatche is really nothing more than a giant spawning flat with a hard bottom and lots of shell. Not only does that attract lots of bass, it attracts lots of bass anglers. Therefore, if the weather is warm and stable leading up to the Classic, Ragusa says local pressure could come into play.

“If it’s on during that off-limits period, you can bet Cataouatche is going to get hammered by the locals,” said Ragusa. “It would be better for the Classic guys if it’s cold during that off-limits period and warming going into the tournament.”

One key to Cataouatche, according to Ragusa, is moving water. Regardless of whether it’s tidal movement or water moving through Davis Pond, bass simply bite better when the water is moving.

“My experience is when the pumps don’t run or the tide doesn’t move, the fish don’t bite,” Ragusa said. “It will disgust you too because everything looks so right — tons of bait, good-looking cover, but no bites.

“And when that muddy water from the diversion mixes with that gin-clear marsh water, it’s either the clearest dirty water you’ve ever seen or the dirtiest clear water you’ve ever seen. Either way, you can see a spinnerbait rolling 2 feet under the water.”

Ragusa expects spinnerbaits and soft plastics to rule the day at Cataouatche during the Classic with maybe a chatter bait coming into play. Some favorites are Brush Hogs, Speed Craws and trick worms fished around the grass.

Previews of the other areas Classic anglers are likely to fish are available on the dedicated Bassmaster Classic Updates page.

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About Chris Ginn 778 Articles
Chris Ginn has been covering hunting and fishing in Louisiana since 1998. He lives with his wife Jennifer and children Matthew and Rebecca along the Bogue Chitto River in rural Washington Parish. His blog can be found at chrisginn.com.