Lake was one of my favorite late-summer fishing spots in the 1950s.
The small impoundment in northern Louisiana was the site of a camp
operated for the benefit of church groups.
years in a row I had the pleasure of attending camp there in late
summer. Each time, my week there corresponded with a hatch of Mayflies.
insects would appear in a stand of willows whose branches hung out
over the water at the end of a point of land. Largemouth bass and
bluegills always showed up about sunset to feed on the struggling
bugs as they hit the water.
first time I discovered the frenzy of feeding activity, I had no
fishing tackle. So I scoured the camp and came up with string, made
a hook from a straight pin and used a willow limb for a pole. Using
grasshoppers for bait, I managed to get a lot of strikes and caught
a couple of fish.
following year, I took a flyrod and a couple of popping bugs to
camp. I caught bass and big bream every evening while everyone else
attended vespers and participated in other camp activities.
bass that hit my popping bugs were mostly the 14- and 15-inch, 1-pound-class
fish that keep kids with flyrods happy. A time or two, I caught
bass there that approached 3 pounds. But I was always happy because
of the fast action I got from the small ones.
stocking of Florida-strain largemouth bass has changed Caney Lake,
according to recent stories coming out of Louisiana. The action
may still be great on topwater lures in summer. But now it is possible
to catch an occasional lunker.
Lake reportedly has produced nine of the top 10 largemouth bass
taken from Louisiana water, including one at 15.97 pounds.
the 50s, Louisiana fishermen considered a 5-pound bass a lunker,
worth sending to the taxidermist, if a person could afford such
5-pounders are routinely caught from many Louisiana lakes and streams.
The damming of the Sabine River along the western border of the
state to create Toledo Bend Reservoir in the 1960s started the boom
in big Louisiana bass. But stocking Florida-strain bass was the
factor that spread the boom to many other waterways.
next big boom in Louisiana fishing likely will occur on the Red
River. A series of locks and dams will create a string of lakes
on the muddy, shallow river. The new impoundments will hold clear
water and offer the opportunity for fishing comparable to that on
the Arkansas River navigation system.
I were young and energetic and still felt a compulsion to fish daily,
as I did for most of my 53 years, I'd move to the land where my
father grew up, only five miles from Red River as the crow flies,
and start a guide service and compete in the numerous tournaments
that undoubtedly will be held on the river system in coming years.
duck hunting in the area likely will improve as the Red River becomes
a series of lakes. The artificially high water levels will no doubt
destroy bottomland hardwood timber in some backwater areas, but
overall habitat conditions for waterfowl likely will improve.
Red, like the Arkansas, is a river capable of being improved by
navigation work. The Ouachita, the White and many other rivers in
this part of the country, however, are damaged when man starts changing
can hardly wait for the Red River lakes to become a reality. Meanwhile,
I think I'll plan a Labor Day trip to Caney Lake and see if any
of those big Florida-strain largemouths will hit a popping bug.