Providence has December’s lunkers

Don’t hesitate this month. Point the bow of your boat directly toward this perennial winter hotspot.

I like fishing in December with football games on TV, waterfowl and deer seasons taking place and most of Louisiana’s lakes clear of fishermen.Lake Providence, a Mississippi River oxbow lake, is full of cypress trees, and in December, the water temperature isn’t really that cold. You’ll be fishing for a fall bass bite instead of a winter bite. The average-size December bass will be around 3 pounds, but you may catch a 4- to 7-pounder. This lake has been in very good shape the past few years, and is very fertile.

On a sunny day, the Providence bass will pull in close to the trunks of the cypress trees, because those roots absorb heat, making them warmer. Also, bass will be holding next to boat-dock pilings, sea walls or any other structure that holds heat. However, I prefer to fish the cypress trees.

Here’s what I consider to determine exactly where the bass are positioned. Are they tight against the tree, or are they up near the surface? Do I need to slow-roll a spinner bait close to the bottom, or are the bass holding 7 or 8 feet from the base of the tree in that doughnut-shaped root of cypress trees? On a cloudy day, the bass will be in shallow and closer to the trunk, and on a sunny day, they’ll be holding somewhat deeper.

Bet on the spinnerbait

If one of those December warm fronts with stable weather moves through, you can wear the bass out at Providence with a Strike King 1/2-ounce Premier Elite spinnerbait by casting toward any visible cover. Even on a cool December day, if there’s any type of breeze on the water, you’ll catch bass at Providence on a big-profile spinnerbait.

I like a white Rage Craw with its two big pincers on its back that deliver plenty of action to the back of a spinnerbait. Its big size slows down the spinnerbait. Then you can reel it slowly and still keep it high in the water. Depending on the rainfall in December, Providence’s water may be green if the level’s stable. I want the bass to be able to feel the bait — that’s why I like a bait with thump as I retrieve it.

Pure Poison

If I can’t get the bass to bite as fast as I want them to on the spinnerbait, I’ll switch to the Pure Poison lure that’s similar to a spinnerbait but gives off twice the vibration and has no flash. I describe the Pure Poison as a vibrating jig that thumps. It has a lot of pull to it, which allows you to feel the bait well and feel the structure as it goes over.

Any fisherman who goes to Providence this month will look at those cypress trees and say, “This is spinnerbait country.” That’s why the bass here get so accustomed to spinnerbaits and won’t hit them as readily as they will another lure with many spinnerbait properties. That’s the niche the Pure Poison fits in December.

If the day’s bright and sunny, I’ll fish the white Pure Poison. When the water’s dirtier, I’ll fish white or chartreuse. But if the water’s really dirty or cloudy, I’ll only fish solid chartreuse. In 60-degree water temperatures, I’ll fish a medium retrieve. If the water temperature’s in the mid to low 50s, I’ll use a really slow retrieve.

I like this bait because the blade’s on the head of the lure, and I can bang it into the roots and cypress knees to get reaction strikes. I’ll let the bait deflect off the wood and then pause for half a second or less. Then I’ll pick up my retrieve again.

Generally I’ll throw four or five times to each side of the tree and its front to get December bass to bite. If the weather’s really cold, I may make 10 casts to the sides and the front of each tree before I move to the next. Once the bass begin biting, I’ll often get more than one fish off the same tree, since bass have a tendency to school up in December.

A big cypress tree has a lot of surface area, and the ones holding close to or on the edge of a creek channel may produce three or four bass then or at various times during the day.

To fish exclusively for 6- to 8-pounders at Providence in December, I’ll use a 3/8-ounce or a 1/2-ounce Hack Attack Jig. On cloudy days, I’ll fish a black/blue, and I like the sexy-craw natural-looking color that has green and orange in it and can resemble either a crawfish or a bream on a sunny day. I’ve caught bass with it from California to Florida.

I’ll fish the jig slowly and hit every piece of cover on a tree with that jig, remembering that the root band on a cypress tree may be 5 or 6 feet away from the trunk. I’ll see if I can feel any roots of the tree away from the trunk. Often the bigger bass will be holding over the root system away from the main trunk of the tree. Yet, the average fisherman may just fish the main trunk. If I’m fishing a cypress tree next to a drop-off, I’ll fish the jig all the way from the trunk to the drop-off and then down it.

On a good day in December, I expect to catch eight or 10 bass on Lake Providence, weighing 3 pounds or more. I believe if I get eight to 10 bites on this lake in December, I have a really good chance of catching a bass that weighs 6 pounds or better.