By Glynn Harris
It was probably 20 years ago when I made my first and only visit to a Louisiana lake that has its ups and downs. I’m talking about Lake Yucatan, one of the many oxbow lakes in close proximity to the Mississippi River. My friend Mike Gammill from Oak Grove took me to the lake to give the crappie a try. We didn’t catch many but I was impressed by the size of the slabs we caught.
Looking at a map of Yucatan, it resembles a long and narrow question mark and what sets the lake apart from other oxbow lakes along the big river is the fact it is an “active” oxbow. This means that when the river rises or falls, the same thing happens to Yucatan because at the lower end of the lake, there is a two-mile long chute that connects the lake to the Mississippi River.
This rise of water levels in Yucatan produced when the river is high creates several situations for the lake. First, when the lake is very high, you can forget about fishing because access to the lake is next to impossible. While anglers wait for the water to fall, however, the mighty Mississippi is improving the quality of fish in the lake by pushing a boat load of nutrients into the lake which has the capacity to improve the size and quality of the fish along with replenishing the lake’s fish population.
For years, I have written and broadcast fishing reports from lakes around north Louisiana with Yucatan on my list of lakes I call each week. James Lachney from Gilbert who owned Yucatan Landing was my contact and he was always on the ball about keeping me abreast of what was happening on the lake.
Because of a health condition that curtailed his ability to see after the property, Lachney sold the business to his nephew, Gene Lachney, who is set to retire from the National Guard in a couple of years with Gene’s parents, Terry and Juanita Lachney running the landing until he retires.
Today, my contact is Gene’s mom, Juanita who keeps me up to date on what is going on at the lake.
“The water level is low and on a slow fall right now and we had a wonderful weekend for the July 4 holiday with all the campers filled and people from all over catching fish. The lake has been producing fine catches of not only big crappie but lots of bass, catfish and barfish,” she said.
“The lake is on a slow fall and this seems to be the absolute best time to catch fish. The water levels totally depend on what the Mississippi River is doing and when they get heavy rains up north to swell the river, we get high water here and sometimes we have to shut everything down and move out until the river and the lake levels start receding,” she added.
To keep up with the conditions for Yucatan Lake, all one needs to do is go on Facebook and search for Yucatan Landing where not only photos of proud anglers showing off their catches, there is also a graphic showing the stages of the Mississippi River and when it reveals that the river is falling, so is the lake. However when the line on the graph zoom upward, you can forget about fishing until water levels drop. Although you can’t fish the lake then, just know that the waters of Lake Yucatan are being replenished by fish and nutrients that are destined to keep the fishing up and going.
Yucatan Landing is located some five miles from the village of Newellton in Tensas Parish.
For information on fishing conditions, camping sites available and other amenities, visit the Yucatan Landing page on Facebook or call the landing at 318-467-2259.