Consistent weather needed for Bayou Black

There’s a reason most of the local bass tournament circuits kick off their seasons at Bayou Black during January and February. If the fish haven’t already spawned by the end of January, at least they’re getting ready to spawn. This early activity and fast warming water means anglers can more easily put fish in the box.

Corey Wheat, who along with tournament partner David Cavell were Anglers of the Year for the South Louisiana Media Team Trail, has fished Bayou Black enough to find lots of spawning bass as early as late January.

“It’s my experience that the bigger bass spawn earlier in the year down there,” Wheat said. “Certain parts of the marsh warm up quicker depending on the weather, and the big ones will go ahead and move onto the beds. The only problem with that, though, is that a cold front can really impact the fish a lot more than other areas.”

The parts of Bayou Black that Wheat believes Classic competitors will find most productive are the dead-end canals with scattered coontail and hydrilla. Some may even have a few scattered lily pads. Places like Orange Grove, 70-mile Canal, Bayou Penchant and Bayou Copasaw should get the lion’s share of attention.

“Those areas are not too far reaching coming out of Segnette,” Wheat said. “It’s over an hour drive time, but you’ll still have more time to fish than if you go south to Venice. And you can make that run without having to refuel.”

If anglers find that the bass are right in the middle of the spawn, Wheat says they’ll probably be blind casting to spawning fish because it’s usually not clear enough for actual sight fishing. Rather, anglers target isolated pieces of cover where they imagine a bed might be, or they look for the territorial swirls of bass protecting their nests.

Baby Brush Hogs, lizards, jigs and tubes will all be popular choices if bass are on the beds, and spinnerbaits will come to the forefront if bass are still in the prespawn stage. Wheat says spinnerbaits work especially well fished around visible cover and the secondary grass lines under cloudy conditions as long as the fish aren’t tucked away right up against the banks.

“And these fish in Bayou Black mix together size wise,” Wheat added. “In certain areas, you can catch a lot of bass, but you’re going to go through some small ones to catch the big ones. It’s either that or do something dramatically different with your baits or presentation.”

Wheat said that a 15- to 20-pound bag of fish would be doable out of Bayou Black, but the possibility of repeating such a feat three days in a row would be difficult. To repeat this kind of weight each day of the event, anglers are going to need three or four good days of weather all lined up in a row.

“You can catch a big sack down there one day, but the weather changes before you can get back the next day, and everything’s changed,” Wheat said. “These bass will shut down and become lethargic. They don’t necessarily leave, but they get hard to catch.”

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