Big Bass returning to Caney but trouble could lie ahead

Corey Harris, Chatham, is shown with the 13.57 pound bass he caught last week in Caney Lake.(Courtesy photo)

Corey Harris, 41 year old employee at Graphic Packaging in W. Monroe, believes that the return of grass to Caney Lake in Jackson Parish is the most important reason for the upsurge in the emergence of trophy bass in this storied big bass lake. On December 16, Harris landed a 13.57 pound largemouth, one of the heaviest bass to come out of Caney in quite awhile.

To gauge the importance of Caney as a trophy bass lake, an examination of the Top Ten big bass ever caught in Louisiana reveals that six of the top ten fish were caught in Caney Lake, anchored by the state record 15.97 pound behemoth caught by Greg Wiggins in 1994. A further examination of the top ten, however, reveal that none of these fish have been caught since the 1990s.

“This is the thing that has concerned a lot of us who fish Caney Lake regularly. The fact that no top ten bass have been caught in Caney since the ‘90s points to a problem that occurred during that decade. Grass carp were introduced to the lake back then to control hydrilla and the carp basically removed virtually all the lake’s vegetation,” Harris said.

Now that grass is returning to the lake, forage fish like threadfin shad and bream have protection for reproduction and the bass that feed on them have been able to increase weights as they don’t have to move around as much to find plenty to eat.

“This year after the spawn, you wouldn’t believe the fingerlings we were seeing. You’d see lots of little three inch fish coming out of the grass to follow your bait, which means that the spawn is going great. I really think that within four years, there will be so many 4 and 5 pound bass caught in Caney it’s ridiculous,” Harris said.

What looks like a win-win situation with the return of grass to the lake which means more bait fish and bass finding easy meals looks good for now. However, retired fisheries biologist sees a potential problem in the future.

“The return of grass, mainly hydrilla which caused the problems back in the ‘90s could be a potential problem down the road. Already some lakeside property owners are expressing concern about the grass once again affecting shore lines and boat roads around their land,” Wood said.

In my personal opinion, it would seem that a mistake would be to once again turn to releasing large numbers of grass carp to control the hydrilla, especially in the number of carp that were released into the lake in the ‘90s. Within a period of a couple of years, Caney Lake became like a bath tub with virtually all aquatic vegetation consumed by these voracious creatures.

“It may be that one day, the decision will be made to once again utilize the only tool available that is effective in the control hydrilla, and that would be to again introduce grass carp. However,” Wood continued,” I would hope that a reasonable and sensible approach would be taken regarding the number of carp released.

“There is one thing to consider about hydrilla. It will come back. This is a plant that when it starts spreading, it doesn’t know when to stop.”

There is another species of grass growing in Caney Lake now that Wood says offers potential as is provides aquatic cover for forage fish as well as predator species like largemouth bass.

“Eel grass is starting to spread in the lake and there are two positive things about eel grass. It provides cover for the fish and too, grass carp don’t like it and seldom feed on it,” Wood said.  

Things are looking great for trophy bass fishing on Caney Lake right now but are there problems down the road? Only time will tell.  

      

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