Fishing Freshwater Louisiana – Lakes, Bayous, Streams

Come and cast your line in Louisiana’s system of waterways. The state's lakes, rivers, bayous and streams are ideal for freshwater fishing and anglers looking for bass, catfish, crappie and more.

rodeo fishing in toledo bend louisiana

A great day of bass fishing on Toledo Bend Reservoir.

Our 50 degree winter days are perfect for freshwater fishing.

As your boat drifts silently along a shady bayou, it seems as though you have nature all to yourself. Elegant birds tiptoe in the shallows, looking for a meal. Along the banks, critters scamper through the leaves. Suddenly, you feel that familiar thrill. A tug at the line bends your fishing pole. You begin turning the reel, and the battle is on.

When it comes to freshwater fishing, Louisiana's system of waterways is unmatched in the United States. Yet, because the state's coastal and offshore waters are among the most productive in the world, people sometimes overlook the riches of our inland waters.

Louisiana Bass Fishing

The Mississippi River and the Red River feed a system of smaller rivers, lakes, bayous and streams that streak the landscape. These waterways teem with aquatic life. Man-made reservoirs – such as Poverty Point in northeast Louisiana and the sprawling Toledo Bend Reservoir along the western boundary – expand the bounty. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries keeps state reservoirs well-stocked, and their constant waters allow the bass to grow to an extraordinary size. The state record, set at "big bass central" – Caney Lake in north Louisiana's Jackson Parish – weighed almost 16 pounds. But you can reel in big ones throughout Louisiana.

In 2010, a woman fishing from a kayak on little Valentine Lake in central Louisiana's Kisatchie National Forest nearly matched the state record. The extraordinary Atchafalaya Basin absorbs about one-third of the Mississippi River's water flow in the south. The Atchafalaya River and its mystery-maze of bayous form a unique and productive environment. This is crawfishing country, but dozens of fish species – including the Louisiana standbys of bass, white perch (also known as crappie) and catfish – crowd its waters.

Even visitors to New Orleans bring their rods and reels. The lagoons of New Orleans' City Park, for example, are hopping with bass. The bass-fishing world often gives its seal of approval to the state's offerings: New Orleans and Shreveport-Bossier City are popular host locations for the annual Bassmaster Classic, a veritable Super Bowl of bass fishing.

Cold-Weather Fishing

Unlike the reservoirs, though, the fortunes of sport fishers here rise and fall with the basin's yearly flooding cycles (in winter and spring) and de-watering (in summer and fall). Louisiana is often seen as the perfect cold-weather destination for anglers. For a traveler who wants to fish in 50-degree weather in the winter, the opportunity is abundant in a unique habitat.

P.N. Reichard is a Louisiana-based freelance travel writer.


Learn more about Louisiana fishing and fishing licenses through our Fishing Resources page, and read about bass fishing at Caney Island Lake.