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  Sep 30, 2016

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Jeff Bruhl
Fishing the Red River by Jeff Bruhl


The Red River lives up to Louisiana's nickname of Sportsman's Paradise. Oxbows and rock piles line the Red River just south of Shreveport, Louisiana. This bass paradise has plenty of hydrilla, standing timber, and other cover that will challenge any angler. From fishing crankbaits along to the rocks to dragging a Carolina rig through the fallen trees, the Red River's cover is as plentiful, gnarly, and abundant as the bass that hide in it.

 Clark's Red River Marina (318-747-2002) is the launch site of many local and national bass tournaments. Cut from a farm, the site offers a launch, food, and a place to rest. The river provides some great fishing. The Red River flows south from Shreveport through the state of Louisiana. Rocks and locks provide shipping lanes for barge traffic. These structures offer a great environment for bass anglers.

 Cover on the river run the gambit from standing timber, rocks, tree tops, and submerged grass. After the locks were put in place, many local pockets of woodlands were flooded. Oxbows are dotted with standing timbers and fallen trees. Rocks dumped by the engineers line the many turns of the river. Hydrilla, lily pads, and other vegetation fill the points and oxbows. If you have a favorite cover to fish, the Red River probably has it.

Local guide and Bassmaster tournament winner, Homer Humphreys (318-371-2020), applies his skills almost daily on the river. Homer's knowledge of the area is second to none. From Carolina rigs to his Clown Spinnerbait, the guide knows what to look for on the river.

 "Sunny days the fish hold in deep cover", starts Homer, who won the B.A.S.S. Red River Open. "Cloudy days scatter the fish all over the place. The sun drives bass into the deeper water and the heavy cover."

 Homer uses a Carolina rig to probe the deep cover when the sun beams bright. As the river and oxbows age, the trees loose their tops. The fallen tops provide shelter to bass and other fish escaping the bright sunshine. The rig covers the deeper water with a quick efficiency.

Structure is as much a part of the river as the cover. Learning the places where the two objects intersect, like a rock pile with a sand bar, will make any trip to the Red a rewarding one. Structures come in many forms on the Red. It may be an old pond in the middle of an old farm which is now under eight feet of water. This impression might be a great place to find bass. Points along the river that are free of strong currents, old fence rows with plenty of standing cover, or flats next to deep water formed by old creeks are but a few of the places to search. 

Matt Morris, a Shreveport B.A.S.S. Central pro, searches grassy points with a spinnerbait and probes fallen trees with Texas rigged worms. Many oxbows have pads and grass that form points. These points of vegetation extend out from the bank. When the water depth is between three to six feet, bass move in and out of the cover to feed. Matt reels a spinnerbait through the vicinity looking for hungry bass. He employs a Texas rig Speed Worm or other plastic when probing bottom cover.

"A spinnerbait covers an area quickly", adds Matt, a Bass Cat owner and team member. "An oxbow has grassy points, lay down logs, and drop offs that hold fish. A Stanley quarter ounce lure with a Colorado-Willow combo works in the grass, around lay downs, and on the drop-offs to find active fish. I add a worm to the mix, slow down, and fish a place when I catch a few fish on the spinnerbait." 

There are many baits and techniques that produce fish on the Red River. Here are few basic tips to make any trip complete. First, the Carolina rig is the bread and butter setup when the sun is high and bright. Besides covering water quickly, heavy lines and rods pull bigger fish from the wood cover. Cloudy or bright, the spinnerbait adapts to the conditions. On cloudy days, try a gold blade combination. A Homer's Clown Spinnerbait is great for sunny or cloudy days. The large blade kicks out plenty of vibration. Texas rigged worms and creature baits are great for the rocks along the river or snooping around the logs in the many oxbows. Finally, crankbaits in the river paralleling the rocks often produces quantity. Shad patterns with a few crawfish baits thrown in the mix is a great way to spend the day. With an abundant population of bass, just bring your favorite rod and rig to the river.

From late spring to early winter, the fishing is normally great. Winter and early spring usually brings lots of rain which causes some flooding. The oxbows remain a great place to fish but use caution when navigating the river. Crappie and catfish are two other species to target on the river. For an enjoyable fishing trip, give the Red River a try.

Jeff BruhlAbout the author: Jeff Bruhl is a member of the Louisiana Outdoors Writer Association, pro angler, and a pharmacist. His website,, covers freshwater fishing across Louisiana and the gulf coast. Each Saturday morning between 5-7 am CST, a bass fishing report can be heard on the Outdoors with Don Dubuc Radio Show ( on 870 AM from the New Orleans station. Jeff has made numerous television and radio appearances on shows like Paradise Louisiana, The Big Fish, and From tips on to weekly reports on his website, his articles and reports provide tips and tactics for bass anglers in the sportsman paradise. Jeff’s sponsors include Abu Garcia, Xpoint hooks, Bud Light, Louisiana Fish Fry Products, Power Pole, Stanley Jigs and Spinnerbaits, Skeeter, Dockside Marine, Rat-L-Trap, and Berkley. For more information about fishing in Louisiana, drop Jeff an email at



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