If you want to slay the crappie on Lake D’Arbonne this month, you’ve got to search the sloughs — that’s where the fish will be, gorging on shad and filling up for the winter.
“November’s a great month to fish for crappie on D’Arbonne because the fish are still hanging in those sloughs, but cooler weather is making them more active,” according to veteran angler Bobby Phillips. “The old sloughs from 12 to 20 feet deep that are full of stumps are the best spots to fish. And you’ll find the crappie on them where you find the shad.”
Sloughs are simply deeper areas that are not too far from the old river channels. D’Arbonne Lake is full of them from the spillway all the way up the two feeder creeks, D’Arbonne Bayou and Corney Creek. And with today’s fancy electronics, it’s a lot easier than it used to be. Side- and down-scanning views allow anglers to cruise areas more quickly than the old way Phillips and other long-time anglers did it — by keeping their bait in the water for hours.
“That sure makes a difference,” he said. “But you’ve still got to figure out what they want to bite when you find them. This time of year, my favorite baits are chartreuse and blue for muddy water, and gray or white with a blue hue for clear water. If you hold up a shad, you’ll notice it always has a blue hue. Anything that duplicates a shad will do,” he said. Bobby Garland’s baby shad, blue thunder and popsicle are three of his favorites. He also likes to use Black Lake hair jigs in grey, chartreuse and blue. The size of the jig depends on how deep the fish are: If they’re shallow, use a smaller jig because it falls slower and gives them a little longer to hit the bait. They’ll also hit minnows, but Phillips doesn’t like to fool with them.
Later this month, some of the fish will start migrating toward the deeper river channel, but not until the water cools off. Shad can’t take really cold water, so they move quickly when it cools off.
“This is a transition month, so it strictly depends on the weather as to how long they stay in the sloughs. If it stays warm like some times in the past, you can catch them in 6 to 8 feet of water on Thanksgiving Day. If the water comes way up, sometimes the shad will move up the creeks pretty quick. You just have to adjust with the weather.
“But know this,” he said. “If you find the bait, you’ll find the fish. Crappie are not going to be too far away from the dinner table.”