Think outside box for Verret bass

Most people are concerned about fishing for bass in the Atchafalaya Basin because the water can be up or down, it can be muddy or clear and it can change quickly. But I like to fish Lake Verret this month, and you also can get to Bayou Black from there. This area has lots of water to fish, so generally in March, you can find places to catch bass at Lake Verret.

Often the spillway side of the Atchafalaya Basin will be muddy and high during March. When the Mississippi River’s high, which causes the bass to move out into the woods, this spillway side is much less dependable.

Don’t get me wrong. If the spillway side of the basin has stable and clearing water, it can be outstanding for bass in March. But if you want to plan ahead and be much more certain of catching bass, the Verret side of the basin is more stable. Also on this side of the basin, because the water levels are somewhat more stable, the bass will begin to spawn.

Lake Verret is made up of a lot of dead-end canals, including several oil-field canals. You’ll find the bass spawning in March in these places. I search for short, dead-end canals with cypress trees and grass in them. Most bass fishermen will think, “I need to fish a rubber frog because there’s so much grass, and fishing a frog in the grass this time of year has always been a good tactic.”

However, remember that these bass have had fishing pressure since February. So I’ll choose to fish the baits that most other fishermen won’t be fishing — buzz bait and finesse worms.

Buzz-up Verret’s bass

I like to fish the buzz bait on 20-pound-test line. On a good day, you can expect to catch 10 to 20 keepers, and your best bass will weigh 2 to 4 pounds. You may catch a 6-pounder, but usually a 4-pound bass will be your big fish of the day.

The water’s starting to warm up, the bass have moved up shallow to spawn, and the grass is growing. I’ll fish a 3/8-ounce black Strike King buzzbait early in the morning, especially if it’s one of those low-cloud, muggy mornings, on the edges of these canals. If the weather’s cloudy and/or rainy all day long, I may fish the buzz bait all day.

You can have some outstanding topwater fishing using this technique early in the morning or on cloudy, rainy days in March. Because most fishermen aren’t fishing buzz baits, I believe I have a better chance to get those active bass to bite than if I’m fishing a rubber frog like everyone else.

Finesse those bass

Another technique I’ve used to catch some good-sized bass in Lake Verret this month is fishing a 7-inch junebug Strike King 3X plastic finesse worm rigged with a 1/8- or a 1/16-ounce slip sinker ahead of the worm. I rig the worm Texas-style on a No. 4/0 hook, and I’m generally fishing either 17- or 20-pound-test Cajun fluorocarbon line.

This technique is effective because these canals get a lot of fishing pressure, which causes the bass to become wary of creature baits, jigs and spinnerbaits. That junebug worm matches the water color, whether the water is a tannic-acid or a kind of green color. I’m flipping and pitching (target fishing) the worm to any type of visible cover that I think will hold a bass. I’ll use a 7-foot medium-heavy rod, and pitch to all of the shallow cover that’s in 2 1/2 feet of water or less.

Although you may think that most of the bites will come on the fall of the worm, remember you’re fishing for bedding bass. So, often you’ll have to shake the worm or hop it up and down and irritate the fish to get them to bite.

On a high tide, I fish a 3/16-ounce slip sinker. But on a falling tide, when the water’s really low, the bass get very spooky. That’s when I downsize to either a 1/8- or even a 1/16-ounce slip sinker ahead of the worm. I call the technique I use “settling in.” I’m not covering a lot of water; I’m thoroughly fishing each piece of cover I encounter. I’ll pick a dead-end canal and fish it from the mouth of the canal all the way into the back and up the other side, back to the mouth. I’ll cast to grass clumps, cypress trees, cypress knees and tupelos on the bank for simple fishing.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a tournament angler to fish successfully all the way around the bank in one of these canals with a worm. Junebug is my No. 1 March color; however, if the water’s very clear, I’ll fish a green-pumpkin worm.

I really like to fish the Basin because the scenery is so pretty, and you can catch lots of bass in a day, plus the bass will be in shallow water. This is the time we’ve all been waiting for with hunting season over, even though the mornings may be somewhat cool. The fish are on the beds, and they’re hungry. March more or less begins the highly productive bass fishing that starts in the spring. Try Lake Verret this month. Don’t be surprised if you see me down there, if I can get a day off from tournament