Slabs. That word puts a gleam in the eye of fishermen who visit Lake D’Arbonne State Park at Farmerville in Union Parish during February and throughout the spring.
“Slab” is a common term for the size of a fish that is actually known by several names around the region—white perch, crappie and sacalait (sack-uh-ley). But no matter what you call this tasty fish, when it comes to catching “slabs”, there’s no better place than Lake D’Arbonne. This 16,000 acre lake in north central Louisiana located just north of Monroe and east of Ruston is full of slabs, many becoming the trophies of the crappie class that weigh around two pounds. They are great fighters, make excellent table fare and they are not hard to catch this time of year with the proper baits and a little patience.
Where to Fish: In the spring, the white perch migrate into shallower water to spawn. That congregates them in water that is easier for the average fisherman to locate. Fishing is best around the shoreline, cypress tree flats, boat docks and piers or shallow ridges out in the lake. The key to finding them is fishing in water from 4-7 feet deep. Keep your lure 2-5 feet deep. When you catch one, work that area well. There are usually more than one in a spot. Best artificial baits are small hair jigs and spinners (favorite colors are white, chartreuse and smokey) and you can’t beat live shiners, either. Here’s a special tip: Put a white or chartreuse glitter “Crappie Bite” on your hook for extra action!
This lake is open and the wind can be challenging in the spring, but the good news is there are several modern public boat launches and parking where you can launch your boat and find calm water—including the spillway, Stowe Creek, Hwy. 33 (Ruston highway), Hwy. 2 (Bernice highway) and the State Park. The lake has many stumps, so make sure you stay in the boat channels when boating.
Lake D’Arbonne State Park is also a bonus treasure in the area with cabins, camping spots, hiking trails, fishing piers and a nature center that can turn your white perch fishing trip into a fun time for the whole family. You can even catch white perch from one of their fishing piers. Lake D’Arbonne is named after the major bayou that was used to flood the lake in the early 1960’s. The lake is divided into three areas—the Main Lake, from the spillway north, and two arms, Little D’Arbonne and Corney Creek. Once you’ve had your fill of fishing, there is plenty to do in the area.
Check the Union Parish Tourist Commission site for details about the area. You can also get daily updates from around the lake on lakedarbonnelife.com.