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Caddo Lake – Non-Oxbow Natural Lake

February 22, 2020

Non-Oxbow Lake Texas/Louisiana - Caddo Lake

Caddo Lake is a 26 800-acre lake and bayou on the border between Texas and Louisiana. Further, located in Texas in northern Harrison County and southern Marion County. While, the western side is in Caddo Parish in Louisiana. The bayou or wetland is internationally protected under the Ramsar Convention and includes the largest flooded cypress forest in the United States.

Meanwhile, Caddo is a non-oxbow natural lake and the second largest in the south. Furthermore, was artificially altered by the addition of a dam in the 1900’s. While, the first dam was built in 1914 and replaced in 1971. Moreover, has a fluctuation ranging from 4 to 8 feet with a maximum depth in the lake being 20 feet.

Generally, the water clarity is moderately clear to stained. While, the wildlife inhabiting the lake include owls, snakes, frogs, waterfowl, bobcats, river otters, beavers, eagles and alligators. Further, controlled by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the predominant fish species include.

Structure and Native Vegetation

Caddo Lake originated as a natural lake and was dammed for flood control. The native and non-native aquatic vegetation covers approximately 95 percent of the surface area of the lake. Further, approximately 60% of the coverage is dominated by native submerged and emergent aquatic vegetation.

Furthermore, inundated with bald cypress trees scattered in shallow water which provide excellent fish habitats. While, man-made structures such as fishing piers and duck blinds also provide habitats for cover-seeking species.

Boat Ramps, Accommodation, Docks and Parking Facilities

Caddo Lake has two public ramps and several privately operated marinas. Operating around and on water is extremely dangerous. Therefore, wear personal flotation devices.

Highway 43 Ramp

Highway 43 Ramp at Caddo Lake

Highway 43 Ramp is a Harrison County operated marina located on the south riverbank upstream of the lake. Therefore, from Marshall, take Texas 43 east to Cypress Bayou.

While, this facility offers parking, it also has a two-lane concrete ramp that is free to use and open all year round. However, for information please contact (903) 935-4808.

Caddo Lake State Park

Caddo Lake State Park is a facility that offers improved ADA-Accessible restrooms, parking, picnic areas, courtesy docks with a two-lane boat ramp. As well as, fishing pier, nature trails and campgrounds.

Further, for overnight guests the facility offers screen shelters, cabins and campsites with or without hookup points. Furthermore, located on the south riverbank upstream of the main lake.

From the US 59 take Texas 43 east to FM Road 2198 and go east approximately 1 mile to the park’s entrance. While, the facility requires a day use, it is open all year round and operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department contactable on (903) 679-3351 for information and reservations.

State Park

Crip's Camp

Crips Camp Sign at Caddo Lake

Crip’s Camp is located on the west bank at mid-lake level. Therefore, take Texas 43 from Marshall to FM 2198 and travel eat to Uncertain.

The facility offers parking for 30 vehicles and a single lane concrete ramp. While, the privately operated facility opens all year round for a fee. Moreover, for information please contact (903) 789-3233.

Johnson's Ranch

Johnson’s Ranch is located on the west bank at mid-lake. Therefore, from Marshall take Texas 43 to FM 2198 and go east to Uncertain.

While, the facility offers restrooms, cleaning stations, live bait facility, parking for 15 vehicles and boat gas facility. As well as, courtesy docks with a single-lane concrete ramp.

Further, this privately operated facility is open all year round for a free. However, for information please contact (903) 789-3213.

Johnson's Ranch at Caddo Lake

Potter's Point

Potter's Point

Potter’s Point is a facility offering restrooms, live bait facility, parking, campgrounds, picnic area and courtesy dock with a single-lane boat ramp. Further, the facility is open all year for a fee and is located on the north shore of the lake.

Therefore, from Marshall take Texas 43 east to Smithland and turn east on Texas 49. Further, go south on FM 727 at Gray and take Marion County Private Road 3644 to the right. Furthermore, contact the privately operated facility on (903) 930-1940 for information and reservations.

Shady Glade Marina

Shady Glade Marina is a privately operate marina located on the west bank at mid-lake. Therefore, from Marshall take Texas 43 east to FM 2198 and go east to Uncertain.

While, the facility offers restrooms, cleaning stations, parking for 20 vehicles, campgrounds and courtesy dock with a single lane concrete ramp. Meanwhile, the facility is open all year round for a fee.

However, for information and reservations please contact (903) 789-3295.

Shady Glade Marina at Caddo Lake

Tucker's Camp

Tucker's Camp at Caddo Lake

Tucker’s Camp is a facility offering parking, courtesy dock and two single-lane boat ramps. A privately operated ramp that is open all year round for a fee and located on the south shore of the lake.

Therefore, from Interstate 20 at Waskom, take FM 9 north and turn right onto Tucker Road. Furthermore, for information please contact (903) 679-3137.

Fish and Fishing

Limits imposed on catfish, crappie, white bass and black basses apply on both the Texas and Louisiana sides of the lake. While, some regulations on species may differ between the two states including those for alligator gar. Meanwhile, it is unlawful to transport live, nongame fish from Caddo Lake to any other water bodies.

While, nongame fish may be used from Caddo Lake in the same lake as live bait. Excellent fishing for Largemouth Bass, Crappie, White Bass and Sunfish. Good Fishing waters for Catfish and Chain Pickerel. While, Spotted Bass fishing is fair.

Largemouth Bass

The Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) is a carnivorous species of freshwater game fish. Has an olive green to greenish grey body with dark, black blotches forming a jagged horizontal stripe along each flank. Meanwhile, the upper jaw extends beyond the rear margin of the orbit.

Reach lengths of 29.5 inches weighing around 25 pounds. Feed on snails, crawfish, crayfish, frogs, snakes, salamanders, bats, shrimps, insects, small water birds, mammals, baby alligators and small fish. Including bluegill, banded killifish, shad, yellow perch, ciscoes, shiners, sunfish, catfish, walleye, bass and trout.

Larger bass occupy deeper water and prey items may be as large as 50% of the bass’s body length or larger. While, they prefer open areas with little or no cover.

Meanwhile, in areas with overhead cover such as overhanging banks, brush or submerged structures, they use their sense of hearing, sight, vibration and smell to attack and seize their prey.

Generally, spawning occurs in spring from March until early July. Sought after by anglers for their exciting fight. Often caught on Spinnerbait, plastic worms, jigs, crankbaits and live baits such as worms, frogs, crawfish, shiners and minnows.

While, there is a strong cultural pressure among largemouth bass anglers encouraging catch and release practices of larger specimens. Furthermore, bass have a white, slightly mushy meat which is of a lower quality than that of the smallmouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch, walleye or crappie.

The world record largemouth bass weighed in at 22 pounds 4 ounces. Caddo Lake is popular for largemouth bass sport fishing good numbers of trophy size bass. While, the best times for fishing is spring with March being the most productive.

However, feel free to click and read more on our site about the Largemouth Bass.

Largemouth Bass Habitat

Crappie

White Crappie

The Crappie is a freshwater fish in the Pomoxis genus. A North American fish in the sunfish or Centrarchidae family. A species of popular pan fish. Other names for Crappie include Papermouths, Strawberry Bass, Speckled Bass, Speckled Perch, Crappie Bass or Calico Bass.

Further, the crappie is divided into the White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis) and the Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus). Both species feed predominately on small fish including the Northern Pike, Muskellunge, Walleye and Crappies.

While, farther feeding on zooplankton, insects and crustaceans. They are less active during the day and will concentrate around weed beds or submerged objects such as logs and boulders.

Meanwhile, they feed during dawn and dusk, moving in open waters or approaching the shore. Considered among the best tasting freshwater fish due to their diverse diets.

While, crappie can be caught on many different lures and baits including light jigs, plastic jigs, lead jig heads, crankbaits, trolling with live minnows and small spinnerbaits. As well as, spider rigging.

While, some anglers even chum or dump live bait into the water to attract the fish to bite their bait. Generally, crappie is targeted and caught during the spawning period from May to June.

The current world record for black crappie is 5 pounds and for white crappie is 5.2 pounds. Crappie fishing in Caddo Lake is most productive in winter and early spring with good numbers of legal-sized fishing available.

However, feel free to click and read more on our site about the Crappie.

White Bass

The White Bass (Morone chrysops) is a freshwater fish in the Moronidae family of temperate basses. While, the state fish of Oklahoma. Meanwhile, other names include the Silver Bass or Sand Bass.

Further, the fish is silver white to pale green in color. While, the back is dark, and the sides and belly are white with narrow dark stripes running lengthwise on the sides. Furthermore, has large rough scales and two dorsal fins. While, the more anterior dorsal fin is much harder and appears to have spines on them.

Meanwhile, the more posterior dorsal fin is much softer. While, the body is deep and laterally compressed. Moreover, the bass tends to grow to 10 – 12 inches but may reach up to 17 inches in length.

Furthermore, ass the vertebrae do not extend into the tail, the white bass has a homocercal tail. While, the dorsal and ventral portion of the tail angle inward toward a point, creating a clear angle. Furthermore, has a notched tail. While, a carnivorous fish eating calanoida, cyclopoida, daphnia and leptodora.

However, when not frightened, they will easily bite at live bait such as worms and minnows. While, larger fish may feed on other fish. Generally, spawning occurs from mid-March to late May when water temperatures are 54°F to 68°F.

Furthermore, young fish live in the shallows as adults move to deeper waters. Generally, the current world record on fishing tackle for the White Bass is 6 pounds 13 ounces. White Bass fishing in Caddo Lake is good during winter and early spring in areas where water current is present.

However, feel free to click and read more on our site about the White Bass.

White Bass

Sunfish

Sunfish

The sunfish is a species of freshwater fish in the Centrarchid family, order Perciformes and genus Centrarchus. A ray-finned fish comprising of 34 different living species. Native to North America.

Mostly valued for sport fishing and have been introduced in many waterways. Generally, they have laterally compressed body shapes with 3 – 8 anal spines and 2 fused dorsal fins.

However, there are two main groups, the Lepomis and the Micropterus. The Lepomis are defined by a deep rounder body shape, smaller mouth that obtain food by suction feeding.

While, the Micropterus have more streamlined body shapes, larger mouths and primarily consume prey by ram feeding methods. They prefer clear, warm, slow moving water.

Preferring to live in and around aquatic vegetation. Further, found in various water columns within a body of water. Generally, spawning occurs in spring and juveniles emerge in the late spring to early summer.

Their diets consist primarily of insects, snails and small invertebrates. Therefore, they can be caught on nightcrawlers, crickets, grasshoppers, waxworms or mealworms. As well as, small flies and lures on light spinning tackle. Sunfish fishing in Caddo Lake is most productive in late spring and early summer.

However, feel free to click and read more on our site about the Sunfish.

Channel Catfish

The Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) is the most abundant type of catfish species in North America. While, being the official fish of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Tennessee.

The Channel Cat is popular for food. Therefore, there has been a rapid expansion of aquaculture of the species in the United States. Cavity nesters laying eggs in crevices, hollows or debris to protect them from swift currents.

Have a keen sense of smell and taste. With taste buds distributed over the surface of their entire bodies and their nostrils. Further, the fish has four pairs of barbels surrounding the mouth allowing the catfish to find food in dark, stained or muddy water with relative ease.

Generally, are omnivores and feed on a variety of natural and prepared baits including crickets, nightcrawlers, minnows, shad, freshwater drum, crawfish, frogs, bullheads, sunfish, chicken livers and suckers. While, they are even known to take Ivory soap as bait and even raw steak.

Meanwhile, popular fishing methods include juglines, trotlines, limb lines and bank lines in addition to the traditional rod-and-reel fishing techniques. While, another method of fishing for the catfish includes noodling or hand fishing.

Channel Catfish fishing is most productive in late spring and early summer in Caddo Lake.

However, feel free to click and read more on our site about the Channel Catfish.

Channel Catfish in muddy water

Blue Catfish

Blue Catfish

The Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) is the largest species of freshwater catfish in North America. While, reaching up to 65 inches in length and weighing 150 pounds. Generally, they are 25 – 46 inches in length. While, these catfish live up to 20 years.

Tolerate brackish water. The Blue Catfish can be misidentified as a Channel Catfish. However, Blue Catfish are heavy bodied, blueish grey fish that have a dorsal hump. While, the best way to tell it apart from the Channel Cat is to count the number of rays on the anal fin.

The Blue has 30 – 36 rays and the Channel Cat has 25 – 29 rays. Meanwhile, the Blue also has barbels, a deeply forked tail and a protruding upper jaw. Furthermore, the Blue is an opportunistic predator feeding on crawfish, mussels, frogs and other aquatic food sources.

Generally, catching wounded or dead prey. Furthermore, these fish feed beneath marauding schools of striped bass in open water reservoirs or feeding on baitfish washed through dam spillways.

The current world record Blue Catfish weighs 130 pounds, has a length of 57 inches and is 45 inches around. Blue Catfish fishing in Caddo Lake is most productive in late spring and early summer.

However, feel free to click and read more on our site about the Blue Catfish.

Flathead Catfish

The Flathead Catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) also known as the Mudcat or Shovelhead Cat is a large species of North American freshwater catfish in the Ictaluridae family.

Further, reaching lengths of up to 61 inches and weighing around 123 pounds. Therefore, the second largest catfish in North America. Generally, the lengths of the Mudcat are around 25 – 46 inches. While, the maximum lifespan is 24 years.

Generally, voracious carnivores feeding on fish, insects, annelid worms and crustaceans. However, they also feed on almost anything that moves and makes vibration.

Generally, spawning occurs in late June and early July in nests made in areas with submerged logs and other debris. Furthermore, sport fishing for the mudcat is either by rod-and-reel, limb lines or noodling.

Furthermore, a good spot for flathead include an area which is relatively deep with moderate currents with access to plentiful bait fish such as carp, drum, panfish or suckers.

While, when targeting flathead use stout tackle such as medium-heavy or heavy action rods from 6 – 10 feet in length and line capacity reels ranging from 20 – 80 pounds for test breaking strength.

Meanwhile, ideal bait would include river herring, shad, sunfish, bluegill, suckers, carp, goldfish, drum and bullheads. Furthermore, the current world record is 123 pound 9 ounces. Flathead Catfish fishing in Caddo Lake is most productive in late spring and early summer.

However, feel free to click and read more on our site about the Flathead Catfish.

Flathead Catfish

Chain Pickerel

Chain Pickerel

The Chain Pickerel (Esox niger) is a species of freshwater fish in the Esocidae or Pike family. Nicknames include Southern Pike, Grass Pike, Jack, Jack Fish, Eastern Pickerel, Gunfish or Gunny.

Have a long tubular body shape and average 24 inches or 3 pounds. Generally, there opercles and cheeks are entirely scaled. Further, have a dark tear drop under their eye and a light colored stripe against a darker background down the center of their backs.

Furthermore, has a chain-like pattern of a dark background and large oblong yellow spots on their sides. While, they are distinguished from Northern Pike or Muskellunge by their lack of spots or dark marking on their fins.

Meanwhile, Grass Pickerel differ by having a pattern of vertical bars along their side, a less deeply forked tail and a shorter snout. Found in clear waters with an abundance of dense aquatic vegetation.

Generally, found in slow moving streams, permanent wetlands and natural lakes. Feed primarily on small fish, frogs, worms, mice, crayfish or flying insects. Spawn in spring in shallow areas over submerged vegetation.

Range along the eastern coast of North America from southern Canada to Florida and west to Texas. A popular sport fish and energetic fighters when hooked.

Generally, caught on live minnows, spinnerbaits, spoons, plugs and flies, from feather or bucktail material. Furthermore, if catch and release fishing is intended, use barbless hooks as the chain pickerel tends to swallow an entire lure.

Chain Pickerel fishing in Caddo Lake is best during winter and in early spring around submerged aquatic vegetation.

However, feel free to click and read more on our site about the Chain Pickerel.

Spotted Bass

Spotted Bass (Micropterus punctulatus) is a freshwater fish in the Centrarchidae family of the Perciformes order. Other names include Spotty, Spots. While, it may be mistaken for the largemouth bass.

However, the distinguishing characteristics is the size of the mouth, with the spotted bass having a small mouth. As well as, having rows of dark spots below the lateral line.

Meanwhile, has scales on the base portion of the second dorsal fin. While, the first and second dorsal fins are clearly connected, and the upper jawbone does not extend back to or beyond the rear edge of the eye.

Furthermore, may be mistaken with the smallmouth bass. However, it does not have vertical bars on the sides of the body like the smallmouth bass. Generally, reaching lengths of 25 inches weighing up to 11 pounds.

Prefers cool waters with rocky bottoms. While, their diets consist of insects, crustaceans, frogs, annelid worms and smaller fish. Generally, occur around aquatic vegetation, submerged logs, rocks or rip rap walls. While, spawning from April to May. A highly prized gamefish with a current record of 10.27 pounds.

However, feel free to click and read more on our site about the Spotted Bass.

Spotted Bass

Caddo Lake Alligator and Alligator Safety

Caddo Lake is a water source within Texas. As we are aware, there are alligators in Texas. Let us not fret over whether there are or are not alligators. Rather, take necessary precautions and always be on the lookout. Alligator safety does not take much time and it may save your life or the life of someone else around you.

Should you detect an alligator, regardless of size, do not feed them to allow them to get food as they will become a problem to everybody. Alligator safety is covered in our article Alligator Safety, but here is a quick breakdown.

If the gator hisses, you are too close, move away! In encounters, back away slowly.

Report the alligator to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Do not attempt to remove it.

If you have a pet with you, place it on a leash and keep it under control.

Do not swim in the water where there are alligators.

Killing or harassing or attempting to move an alligator is prohibited by state law.

Conclusion

In short, Caddo Lake offers plenty of fishing opportunities, swimming, jet skiing, boating, camping and picnicking. Has a fluctuation ranging between 4 and 8 feet and a water quality that is moderately clear to stained. While, having 95 percent coverage by aquatic vegetation.

However, there is a currently a threat that the Velcro-like aquatic fern, Salvinia molesta (Giant Salvinia) will kill off life below the surface. Therefore, all boaters are required to clean their boats when leaving the waters to stop the introduction of this invasive species to other water sources. Should you have any queries or need information feel free to contact the US Army Corps of Engineers.

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