Hungry crappie on Lake D’Arbonne

John Harrison catches D’Arbonne slabs moving up to the edge of the channel this time of the year.

One thing John Harrison of Weston likes about Lake D’Arbonne is that you can catch crappie pretty much any time of the year on the 16,000 acre Union Parish Lake.

But this month and the next couple, it is one of his favorite times of the year because the fish even the odds by gathering up and making them easier to find. Just make sure you have a good topo map.

“D’Arbonne is on fire this time of the year,” said the pro fisherman who travels all over the south fishing competitively and guiding. “The lake has plenty of shad and the shad start gathering up on the edges of the main channels this time of year. And it doesn’t take long for the crappie to gather up there and feed right through the winter.”

Sometimes factors like sudden weather changes or big rains in the lake’s watershed can change the bite and slow things down, but for the most part, there’s no better time to fish than now.

“The edges of the main creek channel, especially where it makes big bends or places where the big creeks come into the channel, like Stowe Creek or Forks Ferry, are the best spots,” Harrison said. “When the bite is on, you can usually figure out some of the good spots because there will be anywhere from two to 20 boats already in the area.”

Away from the crowds

Harrison mainly livescopes for fish these days, but he often still uses a spider rig. In fact, it’s his favorite way to fish and this is a good month to try that. But you won’t normally find him in with those other boats. There are fish all over the lake and he takes a different approach.

“I try to stay away from the crowds and find something different,” he said. “D’Arbonne is mostly white crappie and whites are more of a roaming fish, a nomadic fish. They will roam around near the schools of shad and up and down the edges of the structure changes. You might even find them suspended 10 feet deep in 20 feet of water. Sometimes the really big ones just hang out by themselves there. D’Arbonne has some good black crappie, too, but they relate more to structure.”

D’Arbonne is a lake with shallow water, deep water and flats within literal casting distance of each other and that’s perfect for keeping crappie in a certain area. They don’t just wander all the way up and down the lake, but in a specific area of the lake that becomes their home. The only time that usually changes is if there’s no bait there or a high amount of current.

Harrison’s favorite baits

Harrison has every bait on the market available to him, but he sticks with some of his favorites. Those include EyeHole and Crappie Magnet jigs about 95 percent of the time. He makes no bones about it — he’s sponsored by those companies, but it’s because he uses and believes in them. He’d fish them even if they weren’t sponsors.

“You can fish live bait and catch fish now, but I stay true to my sponsors and my favorite lures,” he said. “I’m not that big on color, but I concentrate on matching the profile of the bait to what the fish are eating. One of the best developments in a long time has been the EyeHole jig where you can put a Crappie Magnet Slab bite right in the lure’s head. That way they don’t short strike it. They take the whole bait when they bite.”

Harrison does remind anglers that fish don’t bite 24/7 every day. You have to be patient. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a school of fish on your electronics and not getting a bite.

“When I give them a good shot and they won’t bite, I move,” he said. “I may come back to that spot, but I don’t sit and wait on them. I’ll go find another school that is aggressive.”

Harrison is sponsored by B’n’M poles, Crappie Magnet, EyeHole jigs, Corn Field gear, K-9 fishing line, Hook & Bullet, Black Speck fishing and Ludwig Marine.

About Kinny Haddox 595 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.