It’s prime time for big crappie at Grand Bayou

Warren Maxwell with two nice Grand Bayou winter crappie.
Warren Maxwell with two nice Grand Bayou winter crappie.

Grand Bayou can be a tough lake to fish. It’s 2,700 acres of rolling, wide open clear water near Coushatta in Red River Parish, with no timber and no stumps. In fact, when the lake was created in 1996, the state not only cut all the trees, they ground up the stumps and hauled off the tops.

“That’s true. No kidding,” said Brother Warren Maxwell, a Baptist preacher by trade and a new resident on the lake’s shores. “The only regular structure is tops and cane buckets that people have put out.”

That being said, the lake is also full of big, broad-shouldered crappie. And this is a grand month of the year to catch them: Colder temps are congregating the shad, and turning on the fish. But to make the most of catching them, there’s something you need to turn on, too: Your electronics.

“We love to fish the flats,” Maxwell said. “That’s where we have our best success. But man, you’ve got to have some good electronics. If you aren’t able to spot the big schools of shad, you’ll be spending lots of time not catching anything. You don’t want to depend upon luck here. The key is finding those shad and staying with them.”

When you find and follow the big shad balls, you’ll catch fish. Maxwell likes to spider rig on 14- to 17-foot deep flats. And this time of the year, he catches fish right on the bottom. He said he isn’t sure why that’s the case, but the only time they come up is to run through one of those shad balls. Then, it’s back close to the bottom — especially the bigger slabs.

“We love fishing for them with popsicle, blue thunder and monkey milk-colored plastics,” he said. “One thing we do is use ¾-ounce weights to keep the baits down. We troll about .2 to .5 miles per hour. They want it moving, but not very fast this time of the year.”

For December, Maxwell recommended pink or orange jigheads.

The lake only has one public ramp, but it’s a great one at the full-service, state-run Grand Bayou Resort, located just south of Highway 784 on the west side of the lake. Fishermen need to be aware that duck hunting is allowed on the lake. But that usually isn’t an issue because the good duck hunting is north of the bridge, while the good December crappie fishing is south of the bridge.

Maxwell left us with one more good Grand Bayou Reservoir tip.

“When I find the fish, I like to slow troll through the area, then loop around and make another pass. As long as I’m catching them doing that, I just keep doing it. When they quit, I look for a new spot, then do the same thing all over again.”

About Kinny Haddox 572 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.