All day long at work, Stuart Baum can not avoid talking about fishing. As owner and chief operator of Stuart’s Barber Shop in Columbia, almost every client in these parts either has a fish story to tell or wants to hear the latest fishing report while getting a haircut.
That’s okay with Stuart, because while he’s skilled with the clippers, he’s also pretty handy with a jig pole in his hand. And when he gets away from the shop these days to go fishing, he always has one area body of water at the top of his list near his home in Caldwell Parish.
“People have either forgotten or never knew just how good a fishing spot the Boeuf River is,” he says. “There are lots of great places to crappie fish in July and August, but the Boeuf is right up there.”
The Boeuf River is one of the longest minor rivers in Louisiana, running from north of the Arkansas line all the way down to Sicily Island, where it joins the Ouachita River. That includes traversing all of Caldwell Parish, where Stuart lives. And that’s where he concentrates his efforts, especially in the summer. And because the southern end below the spillway gets shallower and doesn’t have much movement in the summer, he spends most of his time above the dam in the Hebert area.
“Boeuf River is a unique fishery,” he says. “The best way to describe it is that when the weather gets hot, the fishing follows right behind it. And it’s hot right now. One of the funny things here, too, is that some of the best fishing is right up in the middle of the day between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. I don’t know why.”
Before the mid-day bite or on cloudy days, Baum says a good way to find fish is just ride the river and use your electronics to locate balls of shad. That is where the crappie will be, too. On some days, big schools of shad roam up and down the channel and if you see that, go fish there. You will often see white “flashes” in the water and that’s usually crappie coming up and getting a mouthful of shad. In the middle of the day, the fish usually pull off to one side of the channel or the other. That means they leave the 14-15 foot water and submerge in 4-9 feet of water around the stumps that line the bayou.
“I love using minnows, but some days jigs like the Bobby Garland Blue Thunder are hard to beat,” he adds. “If you have never fished here, give it a try.”