History indicates that in the 1400 and 1500’s the “Great Raft”, a group of small log jams, packed together with Louisiana red clay and sand blocked the natural water flow almost from the Arkansas boarder to just above Natchitoches. As the water continued to rise, backwaters began to overflow creating and/or enlarging the local streams and bayous and places like Lake Bistineau and Loggy Bayou and Bayou Dorcheat were formed. In the 1700’s as the river ever more blocked by river debris making up the “Great Raft”, the water flow in both Dorcheat and Lake Bistineau became progressively more rapid due to water pressure formed above the raft and was increasingly destined to become the primary channel of the Red River. Had the Great Raft not been eventually cleared in 1873, Lake Bistineau was well on the way to become the current water way of the mighty Red River.
Bistineau located in the northwestern part of Louisiana, is approximately 25 miles southeast of Shreveport. There are multiple routes available to access the numerous landings around the lake. If you head east out of Shreveport/Bossier City using Interstate 20 it will bring you to exit 33 “Haughton” then follow the State Park signs for about 16 miles. One could take Hwy 71 south out of Shreveport until the 527 junction at Taylor town. From there it is a straight shot into the mid-lake area with utilizing Plum Orchard or Green Park launches. For visitors coming from the west options include Grice’s landing down by the dam or Port-O’-Bistineau in the Sibley area.
Your arrival at Lake Bistineau will place you in some of the finest fishing waters in the south. Renowned for its winter crappie, spring bream and summer Flathead cat fishing; the lake is abundant with bass ranging from 2 to 5 lbs. Your surroundings consist of approximately 17,280 acres of shallow flooded cypress trees, islands, sloughs and deep water structure such as old creek beds, road ways and shallow flats. The scenic waters of Lake Bistineau run about 1.25 miles wide and 14 miles long and are filled with colorful locations such as Snake Island, Cowfight Slough, Sawmill Flats, Hay Meadow and Peggy’s Island. This lake is heavily covered in Spanish moss draped Cypress trees from end to end. Some of the Cypress is concentrated in small to vast deep groves, other areas are tree filled humps with still other areas it appears the trees are sparsely scattered. The lake may be extremely wooded in most areas but navigation is easy once you learn a few key characteristics. Such as the clear the open lake areas and following the wide tree lanes cut through the cypress. With major boat lanes located in some of the more heavily wooded areas it is easy to stay in clear water. Along with the main cypress channels are numbered markers showing the direction north or south.
Fishing and recreational boating, such as waterskiing, house boating, jet skiing and party barge trips make Lake Bistineau an excellent vacation lake to visit. It’s a nice way to get the whole family involved in the outdoors. With the ending pursuit of a personal best bass Bistineau is now supported as of 2007 by the Bass Life association Replica program. This program focuses on bass in the 8 to 10 lbs range offering a discounted or free replica of your prize catch in exchange for releasing it to be caught another day. Summer weekends on the lake can be loaded with fishermen and folks seeking a recreational outing on the water. However with the abundant cover and never ending back waters you can always find a little place to call your own. Along with all the water activity there are numerous commercial facilities surrounding the park. This allows visitors a chance to stay close to the water yet enjoy some nicer things in life such as a steak or seafood dinner at Wilson’s. How cool is it, to motor your boat right up the restaurants dock rather then having to leave the lake to eat a fine meal?
The State Park located on the northern end of the lake is able to provide both primitive and RV camping or you can spend the night in one of the many cabins or the lodge. It also features a swim beach at Park One with covered pavilions for family get-togethers and a two lane boat ramp with multiple docks to wet your line from or just sit and watch the sunset. State Park Two offers a large group camp and lodge sleeping for over 50 people with access to both a full size pool or child’s wading pool and has a single boat ramp with pier.
The seasonal patterns are typical of southern lakes. With the onset of winter and during the colder months of the year you find the bass concentrating on the cypress trees and anglers can do well with jigs and soft plastic. Areas in the southern part of the lake like Hog Island and Gar Slough are popular places for wintertime fishing due to the deeper surrounding waters. In the mid-lake area, the bank lines of Gregg Lake have cypress trees in many varying depths for fishermen to target for the colder months bass. This allows anglers a chance to move shallower following the bass as the temperature during the day warms the water. This also holds true for Bossier Slough making it a good area to explore for the same reasons. Heading toward the northern end of the lake, Clark’s Bayou, Brushy Creek, and the river area give fishermen places to get out and brave the cold in search of the big bass bite without having to head into the big water of the lake avoiding the high winds and waves that can frequent open water this time of year.
When spring arrives on Lake Bistineau, make sure you take the time to look for out of the way shallow areas and back waters adjacent to deep water or funnel areas when looking for spawning bass. The more popular areas of the lake are: Brushy Creek, Crawfish Pond, Clark’s Bayou, Big Toulan, Tidus Arm, Bossier Slough, and the Hog Island area. With the deeper channel running the entire length of the lake, some of the bigger bass will spawn on the roots of deeper cypress trees earlier than most people expect. When those big hogs start to move up you only have a small amount of time before they head back out, so don’t miss out because you decided to sit on the couch watching a game.
The dog days of summer can make fishing tough here in the south. Most will do their best by starting just before sunrise with a top water lure such as a buzzbait, pop-r or spook. Tiny torpedoes in clear or frog colors can also be deadly. Some anglers like to hit the lake towards the end of the day and on into the night targeting boat docks and shallow tree lines with dark colored buzzbaits and large Colorado spinnerbaits or TX-rigged large dark worms. However if you find some free time during the day, don’t let the heat put you off. The hot weather and bright sunshine works in your favor positioning those aggressive bass close to the cypress trees and can be a ball of fun if you can flip a jig or draw a reaction strike from a swimblade or spinnerbait slow rolled in the trashiest moss covered spots you can find.
When fall finally rolls around, the fishing on Bistineau can explode. Keep a lookout for schools of bass in areas around the mouths of sloughs or water inlets and off deep tree points. Make sure you keep a rattle trap or top water lure tied on to increase your casting distance to reach them when they decide to rise busting shad against the surface. The bass here will be on the hunt looking to fatten up before the winter months so keep the trolling motor on high and keep moving until you locate clusters of baitfish. Then slowdown and work the area over first with a moving lure and finishing up with a TX-rig soft plastic or jig. As fall starts to cool the water the bass will follow the baitfish into the backs of creek channels and sloughs. Keep an eye on the old time crappie anglers and move with them to stay in the game.
Bistineau provides fishermen at all skill levels with plenty of opportunities to just get out on the water and enjoy the beauty of being in nature. There is a wide variety anglers of all types; including bream, white perch (crappie), and catfish and of course bass. With water depths ranging from shallow banks out to 30 plus feet in the main channels there is room for everyone here. Bistineau has more cover and structure than you could hope to explore in just one trip so take time to learn your way around the lake because after one trip, you will be back.
Hope to see you on the water.
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