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Sunday, October 21, 2007

• My Thoughts on Cross Lake

Cross Lake. Shreveport, Louisiana
I'll take this opportunity to discuss Cross Lake as many of my visitors have never fished this body of water, let alone heard of it. Of course, if you found this post by searching for "Cross Lake," then you can probably skip this. It's an 8575 acre lake that isn't very deep. The deepest spots I can find are around 14 to 15 feet when the lake isn't low, but the average main lake depth is around 7-8 feet with lots of shallow water in flooded cypress swamps on the west end. Cross is loaded with docks and hydrilla. There are a few islands and a ton of cypress trees. There are not any good drop offs near points, but there are plenty of points. Structure on the main lake is hard to come by. The main lake is fairly flat and unimpressive. There is a highway bridge crossing the east end and you can find a few small road bridges on the north and south sides. Many anglers travel back in behind cypress trees into bayous in search of fish. In terms of what Cross has to offer fish-wise, aside from largemouth bass, catfish, white bass, crappie, sunfish, chain pickerel, drum, and alligator gar can be caught. The shad population is apparent, but not pronounced.

Each year, there is an almost weekly Thursday night bass tournament that ends in a final tournament some time around Labor Day. Up to 75 boats fish these tournaments and I've noticed over the last few years the bass have been getting harder to find. There is a slot imposed on the lakes in this area. You've got to throw back anything 14-17 inches long. I have observed many locals completely disregarding the slot, so any discussion about whether or not the slot is working is relatively meaningless because enough people are flat out ignoring it. In other words, in order for a slot limit to work, everyone must adhere to it. The tournament anglers are probably the only ones who obey the slot, although a handful do confess to filling up their freezers with whatever they catch. There are several people in the area that fish the banks and bayous for crappie, catfish, and sunfish. I have a feeling these folks don't always follow the rules either. Cooler upon cooler of crappie and sunfish leave this lake every year when the crappie start to run. I'm not sure how a portion of the baitfish population can take this kind of a hit every year. Sure, bass have shad to feed on, but the ecosystem of Cross Lake should have some diversity. I've noticed a lot more anglers leaving empty handed over the last two years which makes me wonder if they are indeed overfishing. This year (2007), tournament anglers came to the weigh in with lots of zeros. Cross is a hard lake to fish anyway. There is a saying that if you fish Cross, you will leave the lake cross. It's been called the Dead Sea on occasion. Sometimes I wonder if the heavy fishing pressure is doing more harm than good, but the slot always gets the blame, not the angler.

If you catch a lunker of a bass, Bass Life Associates has a deal with making replicas to encourage catch and release of larger bass. Based on the weight of the bass, you can receive funding for part of the cost towards a replica. I believe anything over 10lbs has 100 percent funding. In other words, you get a free replica. Just take your catch to a local launch that has official scales so you can get measurements and photos before you release it.

You'll also find a fair number of other recreational boaters on Cross Lake from jet skis, party boats, and inboards. On good windy days, even sailboats venture out on the lake. Most of the time, people are fairly considerate towards each other, but on Cross, you'll find that there is angler on angler hostility as well as angler-jet ski hostility. Always scan the horizon for kayaks and other small watercraft. A wake is no fun when you're in a small boat.

In late 2007, the lake was sprayed in certain spots in an attempt to kill off the hydrilla that was taking over most of the lake. We'll see how things fare this summer. Giant salvinia has made its way onto Cross as well. The way I see it, the only way to kill off that stuff is to unleash a weevil or hope for a very cold winter. Hyacinths are also becoming all too common and islands of the stuff drift around the lake. Lily pad fields are all over the west end of the lake too. Venture out beyond the rim of cypress trees and you'll find absolutely nothing on the bottom of the main lake. In my opinion, lack of vegetation on the main lake is what makes fishing this body of water so different than other lakes.

The photos below display the Cross Lake fishing regulations for black bass as well as for boating. All other fishing regulations for Cross Lake as well as the surrounding area in Louisiana may be found at the LA WLF web site.



Notes from the 2002 FLW tournament
http://www.flwoutdoors.com/article.cfm?id=136953

Article: "Cross Examination"

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