By Glynn Harris
She’s old, gotten fairly long in the tooth and like most of us, we tend to slow down once this happens to us. There is hope, however, for one of this area’s favorite lakes, Lake Claiborne.
I was fortunate to live in Homer when the lake was constructed and watched water begin trickling over the spillway half a century ago, indicating that at long last the lake was now what it was designed to be, a brand new 6400 acre body of water that would provide recreational opportunities not only for the folks living in Claiborne Parish but around north Louisiana as well.
I found a lot on the Beaver Creek branch of the lake, put my money down and purchased the lot so I could enjoy what this new lake had to offer, and boy, did it offer some good stuff.
After purchasing the lot, clearing it off, I did something then I couldn’t think of doing now. With the help of friends, I built a pier and boat house where I kept my ski boat and fishing boat and there weren’t many afternoons after work that I was not out there taking my kids skiing and searching for some of the best fishing holes.
One particular hot spot for bass was a row of green willows that grew in the middle of Beaver Creek just a long cast from my pier. This was one of the hottest spots on the lake to ease up early morning before the sun began to peak over the distant trees to the row of willows, cast out a Tiny Torpedo next to the greenery. I’ve had successful fishing trips since but nothing to me was more fun than being close enough to be able to glance over my shoulder at my boat house, cast the lure and watch a bass explode on it. Man, that was some genuine fun.
I eventually moved from Homer, sold my lot and my trips back to the lake became fewer and further between and it was just as well because the red hot fishing Claiborne had offered was starting to wane. The lake began acting like most lakes with some age on them as vegetation died away and things just weren’t the same any longer.
Something has happened to this half a century old lake over the past few years. First off, the Lake Commission arranged to purchase and release in the lake a species of bass that would hopefully add a shot in the arm to the lake, Tiger bass. Genetically, they’re a special combination of native largemouth and those of the Florida strain that while not having the potential of growing as large as pure Florida’s, tend to be more aggressive and more likely to strike a lure.
I recently visited with Fisheries Manager for Northwest Louisiana for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Jeff Sibley, who is responsible for the management of Lake Claiborne.
“In addition to the Tiger bass that have been released in the lake over the past five years or so, our department is also releasing pure Florida bass which may not be as easy to catch but have the potential of growing quite big,” Sibley said.
Another shot in the arm for Claiborne took place a few weeks ago when the Major League Fishing circuit was in Louisiana fishing on Caney Lake and Bussey Brake. This group has a habitat project they fund on lakes in the states where their tournaments are held.
“They choose a lake not on the tournament circuit and this year they chose Claiborne and contributed some $25,000 to improve the fishing habitat. Special fish attracting structures were put together and placed in the lake in several locations, mainly around the State Park with coordinates available so anglers could locate the structures that should attract fish,” he said.
Time will tell if these “shots in the arm” will return Lake Claiborne to one anglers will be hitting more frequently with the real possibility of bringing in bragging sized fish.