Roll The Dice

If you look at a map of the northwest corner of Louisiana, you will find Shreveport and Bossier City. Twin cities basically divided by the Red River. Expanding your scope and concentrating on lakes, reservoirs and rivers will show that there are countless opportunities to get on the water in this area. For a start, there are five boats in Shreveport/Bossier City that provide around-the-clock entertainment on the water. These boats are all located on the Red River. They have no trolling motors, depth finders, casting decks or livewells – but slot machines, roulette tables and poker. If you’re an avid fisherman, then a different choice of boat can lead you to area bodies of water for more excitement and much smaller crowds.


Living in the Shreveport/Bossier City area puts you right in the center of a fishing jackpot. If you decide to go on one of the boats in the Red River, you have to make decisions on which boat and what gaming device you want to play. The biggest decision you have to make before a fishing trip is how you want to drive and which direction you want to go. Driving times to get on the water range from five minutes to a couple of hours. The bodies of water differ in size, depth and fishing structure. Going in any direction will pay off in locating a place to fish. The one thing that is a constant is that the chances of getting lucky are far greater on your bass boat than they are at the casino’s.


To decide on a body of water to fish, you can get help from area guides, maps, and plenty of free advice from local fishermen. Using this assistance will allow you to roll the dice and be a winner each time you hit the water.


Cross Lake
This body of water is located in Shreveport and is the city’s water supply. Cross encompasses approximately 9,000 acres. The average depth of the lake is 7 to 10 feet, so the fish don’t move great distances with the changing of the seasons. There is a lot of structure on this lake; including boat docks, brush piles, cypress trees, grass and lilies. The north and south banks are lined with boat docks. A large number of the docks have submerged brush piles that give additional hiding places for fish. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits work well in these areas, but worms are the best producers for the most part. The key is usually to get the worm under the docks. You also want to make sure that you make several casts around the ladders and other external man-made structure. The west end of the lake is filled with cypress trees and grass beds. During the spring this area is a favorite among anglers. The jig and pig, jig and craw and gold/orange Rouge or Long-A have done well in these areas. When the grass gets taller buzzbaits can draw some great strikes eliciting some great excitement.


Cross Lake is easily accessible. There are several boat launches, which includes a public ramp maintained by the Shreveport parks and recreation department. The only drawbacks to the lake are that you must have a Cross Lake boat decal to launch your boat and the lake is off limits between 1:00am and daylight each day.


Cross has a 14-17 inch slot limit. There had been an extensive on-going stocking program on the lake. The fishing at Cross Lake is usually very good, with good numbers of “over the slot” fish being caught. This lake sees a large number of bass tournaments each year including the Angler’s Choice North Louisiana Team Circuit.


Cypress/Black Bayou Reservoirs
There are a pair of lakes just north of Bossier City. These reservoirs are being developed as good fishing lakes. Hundreds of thousands of Florida bass fingerlings have been added to the already good fish supply. Cypress Bayou is the larger of the two lakes, but both provide excellent fishing. The structure in these lakes includes cypress trees and stumps (mostly limited to Cypress Bayou), boat docks and wide variances of water depths. Grass beds and lilies are also beginning to grow which will add to the cover for bass.


The structure and variety of depths provides the angler plenty of options on lures to use. The Carolina rigged worm works well in the summer.


Both reservoirs have public boat ramps with plenty of parking and are easily accessible. Also, Cypress Bayou reservoir has an approximately 350 acre park that includes cabins, apartments, campgrounds and beach areas. As is the case with Cross Lake, you must have a special boat permit to launch on these reservoirs.


Caddo Lake
This lake is located about 20 miles north of Shreveport on Highway1. Caddo is part of the Louisiana/Texas border. Caddo is loaded with Cypress trees, stumps and grass. Boat rows cover the lake to provide fishermen with safe passages from one spot to the next. The rows are clearly marked and easy to follow; however, you don’t want to venture out on the lake for the first time without a good map.


With all of the structure present on Caddo, lure choices are plentiful. Across the winter, the jig and pig or jig and craw are good producers. The spring, summer and fall provide plenty of topwater action along with spinnerbaits, crankbaits and worms. Grass and lily pads cover a great deal of the lake during the warm months and gives bass excellent hiding places. Caddo produces plenty of 5-7 pound fish.


Caddo Lake has both a slot and total fish limit which are different from other lakes in the area. This can be a drawback since both the slot and limit are different in Louisiana and Texas. The slot in Louisiana is 14-17 inches and the slot in Texas is 14-18 inches.


Caddo is home to a large number of tournaments each year. The Angler’s Choice North Louisiana Circuit pays a regular visit.


Lake Bistineau
This lake is some 20 miles east of the Shreveport/Bossier City region and encompasses approximately 17,000 acres. The lake has all ranges of depths, plenty of open water and thick areas of brush.


If you are a structure fisherman – Bistineau is the spot for you. Cypress trees, stumps and logs are everywhere on this lake; and locals will tell you that is you’re not fishing a tree, stump or log then you’re not fishing in the right spot. Parts of the lake will also have grass and lily pads in the warmer months. During the summer months, when the weather is really hot, Lake Bistineau produces large stringers of fish at night.


Toledo Bend
The Bend is located southwest of the Shreveport/Bossier City area. About an hour drive will put you at several different landings on the upper half of the lake. Drive a little further and you will have access to the launch sites around the Pendleton Bridge area. This reservoir covers around 186,000 acres and borders both Louisiana and Texas. The Bend is filled with dense stands of timber and different types of vegetation. A lot of work has been done by the Sabine River Authority to mark boat lanes for easy navigation. These lanes run north/south and east/west. A good map is essential for fishing Toledo Bend.


This lake provides excellent bass fishing year around. There are plenty of humps and ridges throughout the reservoir. Many tournaments are hosted by The Bend each year including several Angler’s Choice Pro-Am Team and Couples circuits.


Red River
This has long been just a river that flows down through northwest Louisiana to Alexandria and subsequently into the Mississippi River. But work done by the Corp of Engineers in the past several years has rendered this river navigable and fishable. With locks and dams located along the river, the water level is held at a high enough level to make it safe for boating, which created new area for fishing because of flooded timberland and the reconnection of several oxbows. The river’s main channel is well marked for safe navigation, but care must be taken when operating outside the channel. Rock jetties have been built up and down the river to provide for water control, but can be dangerous to boat traffic. A visit to the river during lower water times allow fishermen to see the bottom of these jetties and other hazards. When the river is high, these dangers may be just under the surface and have no mercy on boats and motors.


Fishing conditions and structure vary on the Red River. Being a river, there is always a current in the main channel. The oxbows provide lake-like conditions with bank lines, trees, vegetation and deep water. The spring and winter months can be an experience on The Red considering the rain amounts received, which causes the river level to fluctuate a great deal.


There are plenty of boat ramps up and down the Red River, with the most popular for Shreveport/Bossier City residents being Clark’s Marina just south of Bossier City. For your first few visits, make sure you talk with the locals to learn about the hazards to ensure a safe and profitable trip.


Other Lakes In The Area
Lake Claiborne — Lake Claiborne is located east-northeast of the twin cities – approximately 55 miles away. This lake features many varieties of water to find bass. There are trees, shallow water, deep boathouses and creek channels. A lot of people say that Claiborn is best during the fall; however, bass can be caught there year around.


Black Lake — Black lake is located at Campti, LA, which is south-southeast of Shreveport/Bossier City. A couple of hours drive will put you on another Cypress filled lake. Twenty-pound plus stringers are not uncommon on this lake.


Caney Lake —  This lake is not a bad drive from the Shreveport/Bossier City area. It is south of Ruston, which is located on Interstate 20. Caney Lake is known for producing big bass and most of the “Top 30” bass in Louisiana. Vegetation had grown widespread on Caney until grass carp were let loose on the lake.


Lake Erling — Lake Erling is located in Arkansas, but is easily accessible from the area by heading north on Hwy 3. This lake has a river channel with plenty of flooded timber and aquatic vegetation.


So, for people living in the Shreveport/Bossier City region, and those planning on taking a trip there, gambling is the ticket. You can take plenty of money and gamble on one of the five big boats, or you can take fishing equipment and gamble on catching some bass. You can try for 21 (at the blackjack table) or you can go for 10 (pond bass). Just like the four riverboat casinos, you can spin the wheel and hit the jackpot with plenty of choices of bass lakes. No matter what your choice the payoff is great.


Reproduced with the permission of Mike Noble


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