"ESCAPE TO THE OUTDOORS " by Luke Clayton Luke Clayton Uncertain, Texas- As an outdoors writer, I often find myself at backwoods hunting lodges and fishing camps, collecting fodder for this weekly column or a magazine article. Many times, my companions are newly acquired friends I meet that share my love of the outdoors, sometimes I have the opportunity to incorporate a family outing into the mix. Such was the case this week at Caddo Lake, situated on the Texas/Louisiana border. For many years, I have enjoyed this outdoor wonderland with guide Billy Carter and his wife Dottie. The Carters own several fully furnished lake houses that have become second homes to me when I am hunting and fishing with Billy. The houses are fully furnished and each has a wooden dock that leads out into the cypress trees. We recently had a family reunion of sorts here, and spent a couple days in the cabin enjoying some of the most action packed fishing to be had anywhere. This is an outing I highly recommend for anyone that feels the need to get away to the serenity of the outdoors where they can really visit and catch a boat load of fish that are on a very dependable bite! Each fall, usually around the end of October, yellow and white bass move out of the shallow waters of Caddo and pack the Cypress River Channel, the current and the very early stages of the spawn triggers this mass migration each year. Shad also move into the channel in huge schools, also attracted by the current and warmer water. Fishing is about as easy and dependable as fishing gets. Regular readers might remember an article on Caddo I wrote a month or so back, where I alluded to the fact that the white and yellow bass were just beginning to make their mass migration. Just last week, after two days of steady catching, I can tell you with confidence that they are there now and fishing rates an A+! We arrived at Caddo around mid day and after unpacking and visiting a bit over a pot of hot coffee, I fired up the boat and headed out with my two brother in laws to do a little test fishing, we had plans to fish with Billy the next day on his comfortable barge. Ive fished here enough to know the general areas to catch yellow bass, one of the best eating fish in freshwater, to my way of thinking. Caddo is really a big inland swamp traversed by the serpentine route of the Cypress River. The channels are well marked but getting off the beaten path back in the swamp is a very good way to get a bit turned around, at least until one spends the time to learn the lake. I know the waters pretty well with a couple square miles of the cabin there at Spatterdock, the name the Carters gave their operation. Some of the best yellow and white bass fishing is within a half mile of the cabin so we didnt have to run very far. I began tying the boat to poles that delineated the river channel and fishing the edge of the submerged channel. Bits of cut bait work great for the yellow bass and the terminal rigging is pretty basic: a small case hardened hook with a split shot about 8 inches above. We fished about an hour and caught several yellow bass. It had been a couple years since I enjoyed this fall fishing and was happy to learn that the fish we were catching were a good bit larger on average than the ones I had caught in previous years. Yellow bass are not large fish, one weighing 1.5 pounds is considered a whopper, but they are excellent eating. There is no limit on yellows and catches of over 100 per trip is pretty common. Our short outing produced several chunky yellows which were promptly converted to fillets back at the dock behind our lake house. Later that evening, Billy came by and instructed us to meet him at his dock around 9 the following morning. Time of day is not critical right now, says Billy. We will let it warm up a bit and in a couple hours fishing, should be able to put one hundred fish in the boat, that ought to be enough for your big fish fry. Right. says Billy. He was right on target, one hundred yellow bass equates to 200 boneless fillets and THATS enough for several fish frys! Photo by Luke Clayton As we motored along the boat lane the next morning, shad were popping the surface and the occasional silver side of a white bass would glisten in the early morning sunlight. We could easily limit out on whites this morning, using Roadrunner jigs or live minnows but lets go after the yellows. White bass are good eating but nothing compares to the flavor of a fresh, crispy fried yellow bass fillet! Regardless how well fish are biting, technique is always a major contributor to success, regardless the species. Many times, actually most times, yellow bass prefer a bait setting on or close to bottom. THIS time, the better approach was to yo-yo the rod, working the bait vertically up from bottom a foot or two, then slowly lower the bait to bottom. Many of the strikes occurred as baits were falling. Just as predicted, in a couple hours, we were heading back to the cleaning station with just over 100 yellow bass, TWO HUNDRED fillets, the makings of several tasty fried fish dinners! Regardless where you live, chances are very good that there is an excellent outdoors getaway not far from home. Hopefully you can set aside two or three days to spend with your family in the near future. I can guarantee it will be time well spent. For more information on fishing and lodging at Caddo Lake, go online to www.spatterdock.com or give Billy or Dottie Carter a call at 903-789-3268. Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton at www.catfishradio.com We have a virtual library of Luke's stories here on the BOC; just about anything you could want to read about the outdoors. 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