Bank busters — Where to bank-fish in Northeast Louisiana

You don’t have to have a boat to get in on some great fishing in Northeast Louisiana. Here are four great bank-fishing options that can provide a lot of family fun.

Years ago, news editor Jimmy Hatten would sit across from me in the Monroe News Star office. When things slowed, we turned to talk fishing. Jimmy and his wife loved to fish every Sunday afternoon.

One Monday, I asked my usual question, “How’d you do?”

“Terrible,” Hatten snarled back in a fashion that would have made Ed Asner proud.

“What — no fish?” I asked.

“Nope. Too many fish. I spent half the night cleaning them,” Hatten lamented.

According to a popular country song, there is no such thing as too many fish. But Hatten just liked to go fishing to spend a nice afternoon with his mind in neutral, enjoying a day out and maybe catching enough for supper.

He always fished from the bank — no hassle with boats, motors, batteries and trailers for him.

The required gear was pretty basic:

• a box of crickets or worms

• a comfortable chair

• a few extra corks, hooks and sinkers

• his favorite hat

• an ice chest of beverages

• a good level spot on the bank, preferably under a shade tree in the summer

If you really think about it, Hatten nailed the simple essence of fishing. Peace. Quiet. Relaxation. Fun.

And maybe, supper.

Bream are usually the main target of bank fishermen, especially in the summer. But it isn’t unusual at all to catch crappie, bass and catfish, as well.

Bank-fishing is inexpensive and a great way to teach youngsters the passion of fishing. In the summer, there are also many kids’ fishing rodeos around state.

One person who spends almost every day on the lake with fishermen but rarely goes out in a boat is Lance Shoenfelder, recreation area manager for the Lake D’Arbonne State Park.

Shoenfelder frequently spends time on one of the four long fishing piers at the lake, sometimes fishing and sometimes helping others.

He also is responsible for keeping the piers in good shape and overseeing projects that make the fishing better.

“You would be surprised how many people come and spend the day fishing off the piers and around the bank at this park and others,” Shoenfelder said. “Catching fish is part of it, but it’s about having fun and getting outdoors.

“Sometimes there are more people on the piers than out in the boats.”

Schoenfelder is especially proud of one of the park’s 300-foot piers that has been totally refurbished. But there are five piers scattered aorund at D’Arbonne State Park.

One of the piers actually has a net surrounding it, and is regularly stocked by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Another regularly has tons of gravel placed nearby to attract spawning fish.

“It is especially nice to see the number of senior citizens that come out and fish on the piers,” Shoenfelder said. “Fishing from the piers or bank allows them a chance to go fishing with ease.

And finding “hotspot ” bank-fishing areas on the D’Arbonne park is easy.

“Just stop by the office and ask us — we know which ones are producing best and how to catch them. Just ask us,” Shoenfelder said.

Northeast Louisiana has hundreds of great spots to bank fish in the summer. Many are in parks and public areas. Others are private ponds and lakes.

In private areas, make sure you have permission to fish, and no matter what area you choose, always leave the area at least as clean as you found it. Dispose of litter properly and put everything back in its proper place.

Here are four other good Northeast Louisiana public fishing spots:

Hoogland Lake

No, this isn’t a secret fishing hole. It’s actually the lake most people in Ruston refer to as Lincoln Parish Park Lake.

The lake was renamed Hoogland Lake after park founder Fred Hoogland in 2013.

The 30-acre impoundment is fed by three creeks and is 25 feet deep at its deepest point.

Hoogland, just three miles north of Ruston, is stocked with bass, bream and catfish.

Picnic and camping facilities are available, and if the fish won’t bite, a huge kid’s playground will make any trip worthwhile for the family.

Black Bayou Lake

The centerpiece of Black Bayou National Wildlife Refuge north of Monroe is the 1,600-acre Black Bayou Lake.

And for bank fishermen, the centerpiece is the 1,200-foot pier that allows you to feel like you are walking on the lake. Really; it extends into the lake, offering not only fantastic fishing, but also room to watch birds and wildlife.

The shallow areas around the pier are excellent for chinquapin bream, with red wiggler worms being the best bait.

The pier winds through cypress stands and open water, and is one of the most-beautiful places to bank-fish anywhere.

The other refuge facilities can help you make a fun day of it.

Poverty Point Reservoir

There are several fishing piers on this lake, as well as some good bank-fishing areas — especially on the south end.

Good fishing can be found in the marina area, also, but this portion of the lake is reserved for those who rent boat slips and their guests.

Make sure you follow the rules here.

The 2,700-acre lake is known for catches of bigger-than-average bream, bass, crappie and catfish.

One unique aspect to bank-fishing here is that if you rent one of the cabins, you can fish right off your back porch. The cabins are built over the water and have enhanced fishing structure right below where you will be standing on the porch.

Caney Lake

When fishing from a boat, people like to move around from fishing hole to fishing hole. But you can do the same thing if you bank-fish at Jimmie Davis State Park on Caney Lake near Chatham.

That’s because the park doesn’t have just one or two fishing piers — it has 11 of them.

The novelty of fishing here are the big chinquapin that run in the summer.

And you also always have a chance to land one of the lake’s 10-pound-plus largemouth bass wherever you fish.

About Kinny Haddox 597 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, lakedarbonnelife.com and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.