I thought I knew what to expect, and as I desperately search for a visual or literal reference, I can’t help but cite the shaky and disorienting sentiments of the Blair Witch Project. Were the swamps completely confusing and disorienting? Yes, they absolutely were. Were they frightening? Not for us. We paddled into this wild anomaly without hesitation, and we were quickly reminded of nature’s challenge.
I didn’t get a picture of her, but a really nice dog with one white eye greeted us at Pine Needle Lodge. Following in the footsteps, or paddle strokes, of the Dallas Downriver Club, we set out to mimic their annual Halloween Goat Island Excursion. It felt good to leave our cars in a private area, and before we knew it, we were deep in the swamps of Caddo Lake. The giant salvinia infestation made it almost entirely impossible to paddle. In fact, it was so thick that we couldn’t tell the difference between land and water. Our first day didn’t allow for much fishing time, and after setting up camp and watching the sun quickly disappear, we bedded down in anticipation of the morning bite.
Unfortunately, our morning efforts were unsuccessful. We had a difficult time finding fishable water, and with the vegetation completely covering the entire area, it was hard to make a read. I caught a few little fish out of some very small holes, but it didn’t take long for us to realize that we needed to make some adjustments to our plans. We headed back to camp, packed up, and quickly made our way down the bank to the Carter’s Chute Paddling Trail Launch. To our surprise, the area offered easy access to more open water, and the launch facility was top notch. We set up camp at our new location and walked down the road to get our cars from Pine Needle Lodge. I fell asleep excited about the possibilities.
The morning air was brutally cold. I warmed myself by the fire until the sun lifted above the trees, and made my way out into the swamp. Our new location was much more navigable, and fortunately, it fished better as well. My first keeper fish finally came, followed by several others. Caddo Lake is a bass angler’s paradise, but I was having a hell of a time with the patterns. I just couldn’t figure them out. Satisfied with a much better morning, I headed back to camp to prepare for the next phase of our adventure. We would be heading over to Moonshadows Hideaway for the remainder of our stay, and a bachelor party would soon be taking place across the border.
Moonshadows Hideaway offered a really nice dock directly adjacent to deeper water, and unlike the first dog, I got a good picture of our trip’s second greeter. The vegetation was still present, but not nearly as much as the previous locations. I spent most of the day struggling, but the quality of wildlife in this area was much better. A few more keeper fish found their way in front of my camera, and I paddled back to camp with my head held high. Our group was quickly growing in anticipation of Saturday’s bachelor party in Shreveport, and I found myself caring less about the fishing. It was really great to see some old friends, and we spent the rest of the evening around the campfire with cold beverages and acoustic guitars.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the short trip over to Shreveport. With work calling early in the morning, I spent a little time casting off the dock before packing up. My trip to Caddo marked a possible new direction for Up Down Bass, as I spent most of my time experimenting with some new widescreen photography techniques. I am definitely going to need some more practice, but I rather like the results. Once again, the comprehensive set of images can be found in a recent report I wrote over at the Texas Fishing Forum, and you can easily navigate to the article by clicking here. Congratulations to my good friends, Brandon and Jason. I know you guys will make Kimber and Malerie very happy. Well done gentlemen.