Look for slabs on edges of channels between two main highway bridges
The colder the water, the hotter the crappie fishing this time of year on Lake D’Arbonne in Union Parish.
Colder water does two things: it moves the shad and baitfish to deeper water and congregates them in smaller areas, and it brings the crappie right behind them. They congregate along the old creek and river channels from one end of the 16,000-acre lake to the other.
“This is the time of year that a lot of crappie fishermen wait for on Lake D’Arbonne,” said Kenny Kavanaugh, owner of K&M Coffee, Corks and Camo sporting goods. “The cooler weather is so much easier to fish in, and the fish are starting to come back to the channels. They get a little deeper, and they school up. That’s when they become easier to catch.”
If the cooler weather doesn’t remind fishermen that this is going on, a quick trip across the lake will certainly get your attention, Kavanaugh said.
“Any time you ride across the Highway 2 bridge or the Highway 33 bridge over the lake, you can see boats lined up along the channel,” he said. “Some days, it looks like a boat show. It’s a different kind of fishing, with a lot of fishermen in the same areas, but there are plenty of fish to go around.”
Kavanaugh said the more boats you see, the hotter the action usually is. And it isn’t just around the bridges.
“Almost anywhere along the channels from the Highway 2 bridge, called the Bernice Bridge, all the way to the Highway 33 or Ruston Bridge, people catch fish. The key earlier in the year, before it gets really cold, is fishing on the edges. The fish seem to hang near the edges. The most-common water to catch fish in is about 20 to 22 feet of water with your bait about 15 to 17 feet deep. If you fish in that area, you are going to catch crappie.”
Another good thing about the crappie bite this time of year is when the shad buffet is full, the fish aren’t as finicky when they get ready to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner.
“Most people like to fish shiners this time of year, but you have the regular, die-hard jig fishermen as well,” Kavanaugh said. “Truth is, you can catch them on just about anything when you put your bait in front of them. They don’t bite all day, but when they do decide to feed, it’s on.”
The top sellers at Kavanaugh’s store are the Southern Pro Popsicle and Bobby Garland’s Cajun Cricket and Monkey Milk. Fishermen usually rig them with heavy weights to keep the lures down to the fish. There’s a new bait this year he said will be hot on D’Arbonne, the Slab Runner, a combination of the top colors of Bobby Garland tails and Road Runner heads. They are just coming on the market, and he said fishermen can’t wait to try them, himself included.
“Electronics are important for catching numbers of fish and targeting the big fish, and the more you can stay on the edge of channels near the big balls of shad, the more you will catch,” he said. “Sometimes, weather conditions make them go a bit deeper or shallower, and you can keep up with that on your electronics. But they are still going to be near that channel.”