Of Fish, Ghosts, and Trees with Knees

Scott Baker

Having no knowledge of Caddo Lake, the Fishing Club embraced the challenge of exploring new waters. The bayou’s shallowness, slow-moving current, and abundance of fish piqued our interest. Our quest, largemouth, white, and yellow bass as they gang up and feed heavily on shad for the upcoming winter.

At the crack of dawn, we headed east. The sun inched above the horizon as we approached Uncertain, a hamlet of 100 friendly folks situated on the lake’s southern shore. It’s small-town Texas at its best. Grocery stores sell bait and hardware along with bread and pickles.

Shady Glade Resort was home base with piers overlooking the lake, perfect for wetting our hook or enjoying the view. A large outdoor pavilion was equipped with a sink and prep area, smoker, propane grill, and community fire ring.

Caddo Lake straddles the Texas-Louisiana border. It’s 26,800 acres of open water. Flooded timber swamp, wetland marsh, and the largest cypress forest in the world provide excellent bass habitat. Man-made fishing piers and duck blinds also create havens for cover-seeking fish.

Fish are everywhere in Caddo Lake, but the Texas side is best for really big bass. We hired local guides, as navigating these waters was definitely not for greenhorns. The densely submerged cypress forest blocked views from every direction. Spanish moss draped from towering timbers. The lake bottom so shallow and soft, it was like pudding. The water so stained and tannic, it was like looking down into coffee.

Our guides worked the thousands of cypress trees standing in one to three feet of water. Demanding versatility, we casted underhand, overhand, and sidearm using bladed jigs, top water plastics, rattle traps, and unweighted swim bait. In calm waters, we laid the bait quietly to avoid any big splashes. When the wind kicked up, it created a current, breaking up the light and shadows, cutting down the need for silence.

Unseasonably warm temperatures presented a challenge as the bass burrowed into the thickest part of the vegetation looking for shade. With metabolisms slowed, they just wouldn’t bite. Despite the setback, we still snagged 25 pounds of filets; the largest 23 inches long weighing nearly 7 pounds.

At first sight, the lake evoked a powerful suggestion of the supernatural. Honestly, it’s kind of a creepy place. Spectral shapes shift in the mist rising from its moss-colored surface, ghost stories oozed from its forested shores, spooky tales lurked at each bend of byway.

As the evening’s darkness slowly crept in, the lake became more vocal—it’s told ghosts dwell here. Strange, unrelenting, rhythmic sounds fluctuated in volume, faded away, only to return louder and closer. Semi-jokingly, we attributed it to the Bigfoot sightings in the area. Was it really Sasquatch?

Caddo Lake is beautiful, mysterious, and haunting. It’s a place to go back in time, to escape time, to kill time. As we packed up and left uncertainty behind, we knew we’d return in search of that trophy bass. And maybe even spot a ghost or two.