"Fall at Lake Caddo" by Luke Clayton Luke Clayton Uncertain, Texas- As guide Billy Carter eased the pontoon boat along the Cypress River channel on a recent trip, one that takes the time to read the subtle signs of nature could easily see that fall is just around the corner. The lily pad fields that grow profusely along the channel were beginning to take on a different look. The pads, a brilliant green through late summer, are beginning to change into their fall colors. The needles from cypress trees along the river, when observed closely, were likewise beginning to change into hues of brown and red. Greater herons that could be seen throughout the summer ambushing baitfish from the same poles that serve as navigation routes along the channel were on the move trying to locate fish that had already felt falls early signs and moved into the current. Occasional flights of migrating teal were spotted zooming over the vast inland swamp. Fall is coming and coming soon to this outdoors wonderland. Billy and I were doing a little early testing to determine if the huge schools of yellow bass had moved into the current from the vast expanse of the lower lake knows as Big Lake. The yellow bass, and later white bass, pack the channel from early fall through the dead of winter and catches of more than 200 of these good eating little yellow bass is an everyday occurrence. Rigging for these scrappy fish is simple, one third sections of minnows rigged with a split shot above and cast into the current via a spinning rig is the time tested way to fill an ice chest. We stopped at all the hotspots that Billy has fished for years but found the fish in a period of transition, just like the plants and birds we encountered. It doesnt take long to determine if yellow bass are biting. If they are present, they will readily nail a bit of minnow placed near bottom. Caddo has some very unique names for areas of the lake, each of which is a story in itself. Places such as Old Folks Playground, The Oxbow, Devils Elbow, Government Ditch, and Dragover area as familiar to Billy as is the route many of us take traveling to and from work. Photo by Luke Clayton Caddo is the only natural lake in Texas and steeped in a rich history. Billy can spend hours, and often has during our fishing trips, relating events that occurred on these mystical waters during his lifetime. When Billy was a young boy, the Star Ditch was widened. This channel was originally dug in the mid eighteen hundreds as a means to float the cypress timber out of the lake into the river system. Billy recounts looking for arrowheads along the spoil banks when the channel was being dug. He found an old rusty revolver in the soil and, when he inquired with a elderly gentlemen that was born and raised in along the banks of Caddo, learned the gun had belonged one of his family members that had used the pistol in a murder years before. The last that was seen of the suspect was him running through the woods, in the direction of Star Ditch! Chain Pickerel are common at Caddo and these toothy fish, a member of the pike family, are great fun to catch. They prefer flashy spinner baits and inhabit the backwater sloughs off the main channels. I seldom fish Caddo that I dont devote a little time to fishing for these hard fighting little fish. Pickerel arent big, but a 3 pounder fights much like a black bass on steroids, often making impressive leaps and strong runs. They are great fun to catch on light tackle. Photo by Luke Clayton Even though we were a little early for our favored yellow bass, Billy and I found the black bass and pickerel to be on a good bite, spinner baits work well on both species. This trip was really more of a family getaway than hard core fishing trips. Billy loaned me a jon boat with motor and I spent plenty of time exploring the boat lanes and ventured forth into the swamp into some areas that I had previously never dared to enter. The last thing one wants to do is get lost in the backwaters of Lake Caddo but there are plenty of well marked boat lanes; stay in or close to them and finding your way through the swamp is easy. I gained a good bit of confidence about navigating the lake alone, without a guide and took the family, 2 at a time on short forays into the backwaters. I plan to expand my knowledge of the lake during another try at the yellow bass, probably near the end of this month. Billy and Dottie Carter own several very nice rental lake houses situated right on the banks of Caddo that make for a very comfortable headquarters while visiting Caddo. The houses have docks with boat slips for your boat, should you prefer to fish on your own. Personally, I advise newcomers to enjoy at least one fishing trip or scenic tour with Billy. He can teach you more about the lake in 2 hours than youll learn on your own in two weeks! Guide Billy Carter can be reached at 903-789-3268 or online at www.spatterdock.com Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton at www.catfishradio.com and check out the new fishing videos at lukeshotspots.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. Click here to see a boat load of information!