The Bassmaster Magazine’s “Top 100 Lakes” for 2022 includes four lakes managed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Louisiana is no stranger to this annual list. In addition to the always-present Toledo Bend and Caney Lake, which made their third consecutive appearance, Bussey Brake and D’Arbonne Lake are now listed among the top 25 lakes in the central division, which is comprised of 13 states.
Caney Lake is currently ranked No. 4, jumping up one spot from last year. The ranking is largely due to some astonishing tournament weights, in addition to the great numbers of 10-pound-plus bass caught in the past few years. Habitat conditions are currently driving the surge in big fish and total abundance of bass in this 5,000-acre reservoir in Jackson Parish.
Toledo Bend Reservoir (TX/LA) continues to hold a steady position within the central division, ranking No. 5. A low-water period in 2019, which dropped the reservoir to 7 feet below pool for 6 months, enhanced habitat conditions throughout the reservoir for a short window of time. Average winning catch weights have shown an increase in the last year, with several 25-pound, 5-bass limit winning weights. This reservoir stretches along the Texas/Louisiana state line, from Desoto Parish to Vernon Parish.
It’s no surprise that Bussey Brake broke into the list this year at No. 15 in the central division. Bussey has produced an astonishing number of lunkers since it was restored and re-opened to the public in 2020. Most of this production is due to the large number of pure Florida strain brood fish that were provided by LDWF’s own Booker Fowler fish hatchery. These large brood fish, in combination with excellent habitat, have provided a tremendous fishery in Morehouse Parish that should continue to get even better in the years to come. In 2021, the American Fisheries Society nationally recognized Bussey Brake and LDWF for excellence in fisheries management associated with the restoration efforts.
D’Arbonne Lake makes its first appearance on the list at No. 24 in the central division. This Union Parish gem is most known for its spectacular crappie catches, but for years it has been producing an abundance of quality-size largemouth bass. Numerous bass topping 8 pounds are caught every year, with occasional 10 pounders landed. It typically takes 20 pounds or more to win most tournaments in the spring.
This honor is due, in part, to the dedication and science-based decision making of our Inland Fisheries biologists, a successful Florida largemouth bass stocking program, and the support of our many partners at the local and regional scale. You can learn more about our management efforts by looking through the Inland Fisheries Management Plans, which are updated continuously with the most current biological information from each waterbody.
If you have the chance this Labor Day weekend, grab some gear and check out this map to find the closest freshwater fishing spots to your area!