December 2019, Volume 108
Fishing the sunlit banks of the coves of Bushley Bayou on a cool late fall morning.
In an area known as “Four Rivers,” there are no shortage of waters to fish near Jonesville, LA. Located in Catahoula Parish, the area is known for its numerous waterbodies. Bordered by Tensas and Ouachita Rivers to the north, and Little River to the west, the three come together to form a confluence into the Black River flowing south. In the immediate area there are multiple lakes, streams, creeks, and bayous. One of the smaller bayous in the area, tucked off the main highways, and with a boat launch you’ll miss, even when you know where it is at, provides an ample theatre for bass warfare. Known to the locals as “Bursely Bayou,” “Bushley,” and “Bursely,” the mapped “BUSHLEY BAYOU” is a hidden destination in Catahoula Parish stuffed with bass.
The small waterbody provides stormwater storage and relief of the neighboring waterbodies, namely the Ouachita River and Little River as a part of the greater Red River backwater flood control plans. The basin was historically connected at both ends, to the Ouachita River to the north and to Little River to the south, but has been dammed up on each end and now primarily serves as an irrigation and stormwater reservoir, but maintains a continuous creek flow to Little River and various interconnected streams, creeks, and bayous. Much of the southern creek portion of the waterbody flows through the Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge.
The northern end of the bayou, beginning with the dam separating it from the Ouachita River, is the area most commonly fished. With navigable areas stretching approximately five miles southward through various forks, the area offers a few hundred acres of prime fishable waters. The various channels and coves offer a variety of cover and bass habitat including numerous points, innumerable laydowns and varied sloping shores. Additionally, the bayou has a large number of bayous, creeks, and drains as tributaries supplying nutrients, oxygenation, and fresh water to the reservoir, as well as prime spawning habitat. With various tributaries lined and spotted with protruding cypress tree lines, the area is a flipping and pitching dream.
Based on personal experience, the waterbody has a very healthy black bass population. While not known for big bass, there have been many 5+ pounders pulled out of the waterbody. In a fishery where numbers are not generally an issue, common winning tournament bags are in the 8-12 pound range, depending on time of year and other factors. In a recent tournament with Miss-Lou Bass Club, Mr. Ken Mahoney sealed the win with a 17.17 pound sack with a 5.17 pound kicker, proving the fishery holds nice fish.
In addition to bass fishing, the bayou also holds a large crappie population, and is a common destination for crappie fisherman in the area. With many of the flood control projects in the four river basin emphasis on fishery management appears to be a priority for projects completed on Bushley Bayou. The bayou is located just minutes north of Jonesville, LA which provides ample supplies, fuel, and dining options. If you are looking for a hidden gem in the central Louisiana area, check out Bushley Bayou for some quality time on the water.
Sunrise anticipation for blastoff on Bushley Bayou with Miss-Lou Bass Club.
Mr. Ken Mahoney with his big fish of a 17.17 pound winning bag on Bushley Bayou.
An early November morning on Bushley Bayou as Miss-Lou Bass prepares for a blastoff.