Cold-water crappie bite red hot at Bistineau

It’s the time of year that crappie anglers dream about. Cold water has pushed the fish into deep holes all across Louisiana, where they can be sacked up by the hundreds, but there probably isn’t a hotter crappie bite going right now than the one at Lake Bistineau in the northwest corner of the state. I had the opportunity to meet Homer Humphreys Jr. at the Port of Bistineau ramp just the other morning to test the crappie bite myself. The frost building on my windshield made me dread the hour of so from sunrise to the time it broke over the treetops. It also made me wonder if waking up at 3 a.m. to drive across north Louisiana would be worth the carnage all those cups of coffee were inflicting on my bladder.

Humphreys’s new Bass Cat Puma had a spider rig rod holder screwed to the front deck when he arrived, and there was an assortment of American Rodsmith Crappie Getter rods laying the length of his boat. It may have been unusual to see a nationally known pro bass angler with so much crappie gear, but it wasn’t unusual to Humphreys. He spends much of his down time during the winter guiding for crappie on Bistineau and the Red River.

We began idling, at my insistence, toward an area that Humphreys called Gusto Point. We passed several boats along the way that were already dunking jigs and minnows into the frosty water.

“We could catch more right here,” Humphreys said as we moved past the other boats, “but we’re going to catch bigger ones where we’re going. I fished down here the other day right after a front and only caught 20, but they were all 1 1/2 to 2 pounds.”

Humphreys passed three rods rigged with various-colored tiny Bass Assassins bodies to me. He informed me that I would have to get my hands out of my pockets long enough to get my own shiners out of the minnow bucket then drop each to the bottom and crank them up two-and-a-half turns.

“That will keep our baits high enough off the bottom to keep them out of any trash but high enough to get their attention because they’re pretty much on bottom,” Humphreys said. “Crappie feed up, so we want to try to keep our baits positioned just over their heads.”

Humphreys instructed me to lay all three of my rods down on the boat deck because we would get fewer bites if we were holding them in our hands. He theorized that the lethargic crappie didn’t want any artificial motion our shivering hands would impart.

It was soon apparent Humphreys knew what he was talking about. The action wasn’t fast or furious, but it was consistent, and we caught crappie up to 2 pounds.

Every fish came on blue/pearl, pink/white, Electric Chicken and pink/chartreuse Bass Assassin jigs tipped with medium to large minnows. The blue/pearl and Electric Chicken produced better than the others, and our biggest fish came on the larger minnows.

Our most productive stretch of water was from Gusto Point to the mouth of a slough that Humphreys called Skinner Slough. All our fish came off the bottom in 18 to 20 feet of water, and the all came in spurts. We would catch five or six real quick then go 20 to 30 minutes without a bite.

As we idled back toward the ramp, Humphreys struck up a conversation with almost every boat we passed. Every one commented on how they were catching a bunch of fish but that they were all small. Humphreys just turned to me and winked.

“We may not have as many as they do,” he chuckled, “but I’d take 25 giant ones over 50 tiny ones every day of the week.”

Anglers interested in trying the Lake Bistineau crappie this winter can contact Humphreys at (318) 371-2020.

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