If you’re a bass angler, then you know what fall brings.
As the calendar moves ever so closer to winter, the weather flies south with pounding rainstorms pushing through with cold fronts.
During this time of the year, many bass anglers will choose to winterize their boats, don the camouflage and head to the woods or marsh for the hunting seasons.
Those few who remain on the water know better.
It’s at this time of the year when great catches can happen all-of-a-sudden – especially on both sides of Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin Spillway levee at Stephensville.
Yes, you can catch bass in numbers and quality very quickly – and all you have to do is move a bit more to locate them.
Just a couple of weeks ago immediately following thunderstorms and the passage of a cool front dropping temperatures 20 degrees, Pierre Part’s Winston Michel found some good bass on the east side of the levee out of Doiron’s Landing.
Michel, Arkansas’ Darrel Cook with Cook’s Tackle and Fritz Boudreaux of Florida first eased up into some dead-end canals east of Doiron’s Landing.
“The fish weren’t there,” Michel said. “After moving 50 yards in the canals and not finding fish – I knew then where to check.”
Michel found an area where waters were draining out of canals mixing into Bayou Milhomme.
On the points of these egresses, Cook and Boudreaux began casting ¼-ounce, blue-white-chartreuse Humdinger spinnerbaits. Michel’s initial baits was a square-bill crankbait, and later he too was casting Humdinger spinnerbaits with 5-inch Fat Mister Twister Curly Tail Grubs as trailers.
For the morning, the anglers were catching bass averaging 2 pounds, and the action was fast.
“At 11:30, a good bass hit Cook’s spinnerbait – one that weighed 5 ½ pounds,” Michel said.
Early that afternoon, the fishing eased up with anglers catching some 25 over 12 inches.
“Right after a rainy cool front passes through, anglers can look for canals moving waters into bayous and main channels and catch very well,” Michel said.
“And there won’t be much pressure since hunting seasons are in progress.”
As fall gets later, bass on both sides of the levee will be chasing shad into dead-end canals or feasting on shad and crawfish exiting canals following rainstorms.
Colors of trailers are important to Michel.
He’ll choose between smoke-black flake-chartreuse tail or bull bream colors (in clearer waters) depending on the baitfish bass are chasing.
On the Basin side of the levee, Port Allen’s Brent Bonadona will also be finding numerous bass for pleasure or when preparing for tournaments.
Bonadona knows well the lack of pressure during the fall and winter can lead to great catches of bass within the levees of America’s Greatest River Basin Swamp.
“In the early morning, I’ll take bass on points and along the edges on 3/8-ounce Delta Lures spinnerbaits with the No. 5 Colorado blade sometimes with a fluorescent red blade,” he said. “And I prefer the chartreuse-white-blue skirts.
“I’ll run these and buzzbaits on the edges of the breaks in the lilies,” he said.
“But when that sun is fully on the water I’ll be pitching and slowly retrieving jigs and trailers on the outside swimming them toward laydowns.”
“As the waters get colder, I will retrieve all the baits a bit slower,” Bonadona said.
As for the quality of bass taken in the fall and early winter, it’s not uncommon for anglers to find bags weighing 15 to 20 pounds.
Therefore, don’t let the rains and cold fronts scare you away from bass fishing on both sides of the levee at Stephensville this time of the year.
By many reports, Basin bass are numerous this year especially since anglers had a late-summer start in catching them in numbers due to an extended period of high water draining into the Atchafalaya River.