D’Arbonne bridges are crappie magnets

There are three ‘magnetic’ bridges across Lake D’Arbonne: Their forces draw both crappie — and crappie fishermen — in bunches this time of year.

One of those is Sam Roberson of West Monroe.

“The areas around the bridges are always a good place to start for crappie in January,” the veteran angler said. “The fish go to deeper water, and there is something about the funneling effect at the bridges. Crappie seem to congregate there in the channel and around the deeper pilings. The pilings stay a little warmer and that has an effect. It’s an obvious place to fish.

“But when a few fishermen start fishing there, it attracts even more. On a pretty day, sometimes it looks like a boat show.”

The three bridges are the large main lake bridge at Jake’s on the Ruston highway; the Highway 2 bridge on the Bernice highway and the Stowe Creek bridge on Highway 15. All three have launching ramps right beside them.

If you can get some ‘alone’ time at one of the bridges, which isn’t very often, you can catch a mess of crappie pretty quickly. But if there are 50 boats within a hundred yards, and 300 fish are caught on any given day, just do the math. That’s six per boat.

Roberson had some good suggestions to help you get your share: He only fishes jigs, and his favorite colors are Bobby Garland blue grass, monkey milk, glitter critter and penny back. He uses 1/16th ounce jigheads so he can get his lure down to the fish. To make sure it stays down, he uses a No. 2 split shot for extra weight. He often uses unpainted heads, but also uses pink. He ties loop knots on the jigs so they can swim freely, and he fishes his bait as still as possible.

He sets out two to three poles with spinning reels in holders, and also holds one or two in his hands. He varies the depth on each one until he catches a fish, then he adjusts them all to that depth.

But the bridges aren’t the only place to catch fish this month. There are actually crappie from one end of the lake to the other in the deeper parts of the river and creek channels.

You can catch fish simply by staying in the edge of the channel — but to do that, you need electronics. You can even catch more fish if you have modern electronics that let you really key in on the bait balls: Feeding fish usually stay pretty close to the schools of shad.

Most crappie fishermen don’t even mind you asking for help, especially when fish are in the channels.

“Crappie fishermen are a different breed,” he said. “They aren’t that secretive because when you are really on the crappie, there are usually quite a few of them to be caught. Second, that’s just the way they are.”