Back in 1966, my job took me to the Claiborne Parish seat of Homer. I enjoyed getting to know the folks there and as a fisherman, something else made me smack my lips in anticipation of the new lake that was being built.
My timing was spot on as construction of Lake Claiborne kicked off the same year I moved to Homer and I was able to watch the lake expand as it slowly swallowed up some 6500 acres of real estate that would eventually form the lake with water finally coursing over the spillway on May 17, 1968.
Bass fishing captivated my interest and after purchasing a lot and constructing a boat house on the Beaver Creek branch of the lake, I was plying the lake’s waters mornings before work and afternoons after work. A row of green willows marked the margin of Beaver Creek and fishing a Tiny Torpedo around the willows was a blast the likes of which I have encountered few times since.
The bass I caught were spunky fighters but if I landed one weighing as much as three pounds, it was unusual; most of the fish were in the one to two pound range.
Down through the years, as the lake aged, there were occasional reports of big bass, those in the seven to eight pound range but rarely did anybody tie into one approaching double digits. Today more than half a century later, Lake Claiborne is turning heads regarding something for which it has never been known. Sure, you could catch lots of bass but lunkers have been few and far between. That all is in the process of changing as more and more anglers are getting their strings stretched by genuine trophy bass.
A good example of the quality of bass Lake Claiborne is producing today took place recently when a Majestic Bass Tournament was held on the lake, an event that featured fishing from dark one day to noon the next. Weights of winning bass were outstanding.
Fish were weighed in every two hours during the course of the tourney and the weight of winning fish was eye-popping. The top eight winning fish averaged 7.73 pounds each with the over-all winner caught by Stockton Roberson weighing 11.50, second largest caught by Tyler Lewis weighed in at 10.38 while third place fish landed by Craig Kolb tipped the scales at 9.38 pounds.
We visited with tournament director Dale Taylor to get his thoughts on the impressive showing and what it really means as regards Claiborne’s future as a trophy bass lake.
“There are three basic reasons I believe are responsible for Claiborne producing such quality bass. First, for the past five years, the lake commission has purchased and released Tiger bass, those superior bass that can add two pounds a year, fish that are grown separate from regular bass in the nursery. Also,” Taylor added, “the lake has lots of good aquatic vegetation in for form of hydrilla and coon tail plus there is a heavy population of shad bass feed on.
“Claiborne is a deep lake so its not like a shallow lake where fish can be more easily targeted. One thing of interest in the tournament is that all the larger fish were caught at night. The three largest were caught between 3:00 and 6:00 AM and after daylight, the weights fell off some,” he added.
Each fish was swabbed for DNA samples to see if they were Tiger bass with results not available just yet. While the Tiger bass should be weighing 8 to 9 pounds, Taylor is of the opinion that several of those in that weight range were likely Tigers.
How exciting it is to watch a lake, one I was there to witness its birth more than half a century ago, develop into a top-notch trophy lake.
CANEY LAKE – Crappie are fair fishing shiners or jigs around the deeper tops. The bass are schooling with some caught on topwater lures with soft plastics taking some beneath the breaking schools. Also some bass to 10 pounds are hitting oversized plastic worms and deep diving crank baits on under water humps and drop-off. Bream fishing is fair around the lake on crickets or worms. No report on catfish. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – Bream and crappie fishing is still fair around the trees and bushes. No report on bass. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
OUACHITA RIVER – Fishing overall has been slow to fair. Crappie have been best fishing the deep tops in the river while bass are fair in the cuts and run-outs. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – The crappie have moved to the deep channels because of hot dry conditions. Fishing has been fair on jigs or shiners. Bass are fair early morning fishing the grass on topwater lures while some are being caught on soft plastics around the deeper piers. Bream are fair to good in the sloughs while catfish continue to bite fishing night crawlers or cold worms off the banks. For latest information, call Anderson Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Big bass have been the ticket this week especially at night. The Majestic tournament last weekend produced some real lunkers including an 11.50; 10.38 and 9.39 pounder caught on soft plastics after dark. Some bass are schooling along with stripers and hitting topwater lures. Bream are fair on crickets and worms. Crappie fishing has been best fishing around the lighted piers at night using shiners with some hanging around deep brush and hitting jigs and shiners. No report on catfish. For latest information, call Kel’s Cove at 927-2264 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Catfishing is good with mostly pan sized being caught. Other species are slow. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE ST. JOHN – Bass and catfish are fair while crappie and bream are slow. For information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is on a slow fall. Bass to 3 pounds has been caught while crappie are fair around the piers. Catfishing is fair and bream are slow.. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.
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