Northwest Louisiana may be the bass-fishing Mecca of the Sportsman’s Paradise. According to Bassmaster Magazine, three lakes located in that part of the state are among the top 25 bass fishing lakes in the central United States.
Toledo Bend’s reputation is well documented. For two straight years, Bassmaster Magazine named it the nation’s top destination for bass fishing (see recent story, Toledo Bend Reservoir: A Fish Dynasty).
But two other northwest Louisiana lakes made the recent 2016 list as well, including Caddo Lake at No. 7 and Lake Bistineau at No. 16. (See full list at Bassmaster Magazine)
Quality fish and beautiful scenery make Caddo Lake a bass angler’s dream. A total of 129 bass weighing in double digits were registered with the Bass Life Associates Replica Program from this cypress-studded fishery from 2007-2016, including bass topping the 16-pound mark.
It was one of the first water bodies in Louisiana to be stocked with Florida bass and has been stocked annually for nearly 20 years. The Florida gene has certainly changed the landscape of the lake, as it has been known locally for producing trophy bass for years.
Caddo Lake, which straddles the Louisiana- Texas border, is managed by both the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. These agencies, in addition to some local organizations, have released nearly 12 million Florida-strain largemouth fingerlings into the reservoir.
For a lake that wasn’t even on the radar of the bass fishing world in the past, Lake Bistineau, which encompasses 17,200 acres in Bienville, Bossier and Webster parishes, is a rising star and provides a unique opportunity to anglers.
Unranked in previous years, the lake was listed as No. 27 on the 2015 list published by the magazine and maintained its elite status this year.
Drawdowns deserve all the credit for the improvement. That process exposes bottom sediments to oxygen and sunlight, increasing the decomposition of organic materials. This improves spawning habitat by solidifying the lake bottom, increasing available forage and releasing nutrients into the water when the lake refills. Improved spawning of all fish species provides greater food resources for the lake’s largemouth bass population.
In 2009, the lake was thought to be nearly lost as almost 7,500 acres were covered with giant salvinia. To combat the invasive weed, LDWF has dewatered the lake annually in the late summer. Lake Bistineau is a flooded swamp with acres of cypress trees lining old slough channels.
The current management strategy closely resembles the natural fluctuation of water in a swamp, has controlled the plant and has provided ample opportunities for recreation.
Florida bass stockings have increased in recent years and the larger fish are beginning to show up. A total of 46 bass have been registered in the Bass Life Replica Program since 2007 and it typically takes more than 20 pounds to win a tournament.
When the summer doldrums hit and fishing gets tough, come to Lake Bistineau and fish the lake on a drawdown. The weather isn’t the only thing that is hot. Whether you prefer to pitch to cypress trees, fish channel ledges with a crankbait or catch schools of three-pounders, Bistineau has something for everyone.