Fishing Caddo Lake—Shallow Waters and Deep History

He’s not just fishing. He’s bass fishing.

Scott Baker

We all have particular reasons for visiting our favorite lake, river, or even the stock pond on the back forty. Yet, there’s something ethereal that draws us to Caddo Lake, the perfect place to whet our appetites for fishing, sight-seeing, wildlife viewing, bird watching, nature photography, or just enjoying the glide of a boat.

For the Fishing Club, it was angling for black and largemouth bass as we headed to Uncertain, Texas, in late 2022. Though not yet peak season for bass on this Texas-Louisiana border, fishermen all know the best time to go fishing is whenever we can.

Uncertain, marooned in the swamp five miles west of the Texas line, is a town of 94 bayou folk, retirees, and reputed outlaws. Aside from its incredible fishing and breathtaking views, the lake and surrounding area teem with rich history and legend. Even the formation of the lake is shrouded in myth and mystery.

For centuries, Caddo Indians settled in the area. Their legend has it that a chief disobeyed the Great Spirit, who then sent an earthquake to flood the village. Others claim it was formed by a large and shifting, natural log jam causing the Red River to crest its banks and flood the area. In the end, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we can enjoy its beauty and serenity.

Sprawling across nearly 27,000 acres, it’s a maze of waterways and wetlands, a soggy cocoon, protecting and nurturing hundreds of species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish. That rich fish smell in the air of the cool, damp fog. That overpowering scent of what fertile waters hold. That trophy-size bass of our dreams.

Once in the boats and on the water, the shoreline receded as our guides maneuvered through a maze of narrow rows cutting through overhanging cypress trees and stump-infested waters. Tall poles with metal tags marked the channels, the only avenues of safe passage through a labyrinth of watery twists and turns.

Getting as shallow as possible, we fished mostly in two to three feet of water. At times, the outboard motors were tilted upward but still turned a mud trail. Fishing among the trees demanded versatility. We casted underhand, overhand, and sidearm, using every technique aside from cane-poling. With a variety of lures—plastic worms and frogs, spinnerbait, and topwater bait—we reeled in our daily limits. Unfortunately, due to chemical applications to eradicate the invasive giant salvinia, we were compelled to release our catch. This noxious, lily-like fern doubles in size every four to ten days, choking out the native plants and leaving whole sections of Caddo impenetrable.

Despite this unexpected setback, the mystique of Caddo Lake intertwined itself in our senses and experience. Nowhere else in Texas can match the allure and majesty of this aquatic treasure. Caddo Lake was like entering into an alternate reality where the hustle and bustle of everyday life quickly became a distant, faded memory.