You can’t go wrong fishing crappie around the bridges
Drive across the Highway 15 or Highway 2 bridges at Lake D’Arbonne on pretty much any February day and you will see boats scattered all along the channel. It may be cold in February, but the fishing here can be hot!
Crappie feed on shad, and when the thermometer starts to drop in November, the shad head for the lake’s channel. The temperature in the deep water is more comfortable for the shad, and they will suspend there until the weather begins to warm. The crappie will be there with them throughout the winter to feed.
Kenny Kavanaugh owns K&M Coffee, Corks and Camo on Highway 15 near the bridge. Kavanaugh is an avid crappie fisherman and recommends keying on the two bridges.
“I don’t know why the bridges are so good, but it might be that the roads create a choke point,” he said.”
Kavanaugh said those two areas seem to hold more fish than anywhere else on the lake.
Try the bottom
Some people fish the deepest water they can find during cold weather, but Kavanaugh fishes both the channel and the shallower flats on either side because the shad will move as the temperature changes. How deep to fish is simple.
“I mainly fish on the bottom whether I’m on the channel, the edge of the channel or in the flats,” he said. “Even if it’s 30 feet deep, that’s where the biggest fish are going to be.”
Clark Laborde, another veteran D’Arbonne fisherman, believes the channel’s edge is a great place to start looking for February crappie. Shad will move up and down in the water column as the temperature fluctuates, and the crappie follow.
“Ledges,” he declares, “provide a happy median.” If you don’t find them in one spot, you can try deeper or shallower water by just moving a few feet up or down the ledge. Laborde concentrates on submerged stumps along the channel’s edge, fishing one to two feet above them.
Give ‘em the Ghost first
Kavanaugh prefers hair jigs over tube jigs or shiners. Shiners get knocked off and tube jigs pull down on the hook. Kavanaugh’s favorites are made by Born to Tie in Calhoun.
“My No. 1 jig is a solid silver one called the ‘ghost,’ and my No. 2 is orange and chartreuse.”
Laborde, on the other hand, uses a shiner-jig combo.
“I like a standard 1/16- to 1/8-ounce jig tipped with a #8 shiner,” he said. “In the winter months, it’s hard not to start off with black and chartreuse. It’s highly visible and will always catch a handful of fish even if they’re not overly active.”
If you head to D’Arbonne, be aware that new regulations restrict a fisherman to keeping just seven crappie over 12 inches long. The limit of 50 fish, however, remains the same. The lake also has a launch fee.
Lodging in Farmerville is rather limited, but the Lake D’Arbonne State Park offers comfort and convenience for fishermen. This 655-acre park is located about five miles west of Farmerville off Hwy 2 and has both RV and camp sites with electricity and water. There are also cabins that sleep eight. Boats and canoes can be rented and come with paddles and life preservers. There is also a fishing pier and fish cleaning station.