The 12 Best Fishing Lakes in Louisiana

Calcasieu Lake Louisiana
© iStock.com/Leslie Hemmis

Written by Kellianne Matthews

Updated: July 20, 2023

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When it comes to fishing, Louisiana certainly does not disappoint, as seen by its well-earned nickname, the “Sportsman’s Paradise.” With over 2 million acres of freshwater lakes, rivers, and ponds, Louisiana is a dream come true for anglers. You can catch all sorts of freshwater fish here, from catfish to bass, trout, and bluegill. This post will take a closer look at the 12 best fishing lakes in Louisiana, where they are located, and what kinds of fish you can catch! 

Infographic of 12 Best Fishing Lakes in Louisiana
Caney Lake, Bussey Brake, and Lake D’Arbonne are among Louisiana’s top fishing spots.

Fishing in Louisiana: Regulations and Things to Know

If you’re planning on heading to one of the best fishing lakes in Louisiana, you’ll definitely want to familiarize yourself with the state’s rules and regulations. For example, if you are 18 years or older, you’ll need a fishing license before you head out. You can purchase a fishing license for your outing in person at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) in Baton Rouge, or from a local retailer. In addition, you can also purchase a fishing license online. 

The rules and regulations for fishing change every now and again, so it’s vital that you check them out before you hit the water. These rules will tell you everything you need to know about when and where you can fish, how many fish you can keep, the size of the fish you’re allowed to take home, and what methods you can use to catch them. Lucky for you, each year Louisiana provides a handy online guide to give you all the information you need. 

Now, on to the best fishing lakes in Louisiana!

1. Toledo Bend Reservoir

One of the all-time best fishing lakes in Louisiana is the Toledo Bend Reservoir. Stretching along the Texas-Louisiana border from Desoto Parish to Vernon Parish, this fantastic lake is a true paradise for any angler. In fact, it is consistently recognized as one of the top fishing lakes in the entire nation year after year! 

The 186,000-acre Toledo Bend Reservoir boasts at least 1,200 miles of shoreline, including many public and private facilities for boating, camping, sightseeing, hunting, picnicking, swimming, and fishing. Anglers come from all over to fish for largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, striped bass, and white bass. It is an especially great spot for largemouth bass and sunfish.

Toledo Bend Reservoir
LocationSabine and DeSoto Parishes in northwestern Louisiana
Type of FishLargemouth bass, crappie, catfish, striped bass, white bass, and sunfish
Pink and Purple Sundown Sky at Toledo Bend Reservoir on Texas/Louisiana State Line

Toledo Bend Reservoir is the largest man-made body of water in the southern United States.

©Bonnie Taylor Barry/Shutterstock.com

2. Caney Lake

Another common favorite and one of the best bass fishing spots in the United States, Caney Lake is the record holder for some of the biggest bass ever caught in Louisiana. In fact, as of 2020, six of the top 10 biggest bass ever caught in Louisiana came from Caney Lake! This 5,000-acre reservoir is also home to bream, catfish, and crappie. 

Caney Lake is unique because it is mostly wide open and it has super clear water. Some parts of the lake are pretty deep, but overall most places are only 5 to 15 feet deep. There are some awesome shoreside spots on both ends of the lake, as well as many boat ramps. And if you want to make your fishing trip an extended vacation, you can check out the cabins, campsites, and lodges over at Jimmy Davis State Park.

Caney Lake
LocationPart of the Kisatchie National Forest, located in Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana
Type of FishBream, catfish, crappie, large-mouth bass, white bass, and striped bass
Backbone Trail at Kisatchie National Forest, Louisiana

Caney Lake is part of the Kisatchie National Forest.

©William Dillingham/Shutterstock.com

3. Bussey Brake

Often listed as one of the top 20 fishing spots in the United States, Bussey Brake is a 2,200-acre reservoir in Morehouse Parish. Although it was created back in the 1950s, it was recently renovated by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and restocked with red-ear sunfish, crappie, largemouth bass, and bluegill. In fact, many trophy-sized bass have been caught here, and some anglers often catch bass around 10 pounds. The lake has a wide variety of different habitats, which makes it a great place for fish to thrive. 

Bussey Brake has three different fishing piers, and one is ADA-accessible. There’s also a three-lane boat launch in the north parking lot, and dirt launches in the south parking lot. It’s also a great place for bird watching, and there is an 8-mile trail nearby that is open for biking, hiking, and horseback riding.

Bussey Brake
LocationMorehouse Parish in northeastern Louisiana
Type of FishLargemouth bass, crappie, bream, red-ear sunfish, and bluegill
Redear Sunfish profile

Red-ear sunfish in Bussey Brake have a red or orange edge on their opercula, making them look like they have red ears.

©iStock.com/passion4nature

4. Lake D’Arbonne

This Louisiana lake is yet another excellent spot that is commonly listed as one of the best fishing lakes in the United States. Lake D’Arbonne is a 15,2500-acre lake filled with large crappie, largemouth bass, catfish, and bream. In fact, each year anglers bring in 8-pound bass, and occasionally even 10-pound ones.  

Lake D’Arbonne looks a lot like a flooded cypress swamp, which means that it’s not a great lake for motorboating. However, it’s an excellent place if you’re looking to go duck hunting and fishing. There are boat docks and fishing piers available, and a few wide-open places on the lake as well. The surrounding landscape is a natural haven for wildlife, making it a great place for hiking, biking, and bird watching as well.

Lake D’Arbonne
LocationFarmerville, in northern Louisiana’s Union Parish
Type of FishCrappie, largemouth bass, catfish, and bream
Bayou D’Arbonne Lake Louisiana

D’Arbonne Lake is one of the best crappie fishing lakes in the U.S.

©iStock.com/Norm Lane

5. Black Bayou Lake

The stunning scenery that surrounds Black Bayou Lake makes this spot not only a great place for fishing but also for just spending time in the beauty of nature. The 1,600-acre lake is surrounded by all kinds of different habitats, from upland pine forests to bottomland hardwood forests and cypress swamps. There are many boat launches on Black Bayou Lake as well, and the water is filled with healthy populations of crappie, catfish, bream, sunfish, and trophy-sized largemouth bass.

If you’re looking to catch largemouth bass or crappie, spring and fall are best. On the other hand, bream fishing tends to be best during the summer, and catfish are available all throughout the year. Black Bayou Lake also has a campground with electricity and water, and there are many beautiful hiking trails to explore.

Black Bayou Lake
LocationMonroe, in northern Louisiana
Type of FishLargemouth bass, crappie, catfish, bream, and sunfish
Rustic, wooden boardwalk twists through a tunnel of trees and branches along the Black Bayou Lake in the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe, Louisiana.

Black Bayou Lake is home to animals inclduing American

alligators

, great blue herons, anhingas, and water snakes.

©Bonita R. Cheshier/Shutterstock.com

6. Black Lake

Not to be confused with Black Bayou Lake, Black Lake is one of the best fishing lakes in Louisiana. However, to make matters even more complicated, Black Lake is divided into two sections with two different names. Located between Creston and Campti, you will find Black Lake nestled on the west side of Highway 9. However, the water on the east side of the highway is called Clear Lake.

On the Black Lake side, the water is much more shallow than in Clear Lake, so when the weather starts getting chilly the fish head down the channel from Black Lake into Clear Lake, where it is deeper and warmer. Black Lake is an excellent spot for bass, due to the lake’s 51 miles of shoreline covered in cypress trees. In addition, Black Lake also serves as a home for black crappie, blue catfish, spotted bass, and channel catfish. 

Black Lake
LocationNorthern Louisiana between Creston and Campti
Type of FishBass, crappie, blue catfish, spotted bass, and channel catfish
Black Lake Louisiana

The root system of the numerous cypress trees along the shoreline of Black Lake provides lots of places for bass to hide.

©Billy Hathorn / CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

7. Caddo Lake

Located in the beautiful Caddo Lake State Park, Caddo Lake is a stunning 25,400-acre lake and bayou that sits right on the top border of Texas and Louisiana. The park is a Wildlife Management Area, with all kinds of awesome activities to enjoy like fishing, boating, camping, and hiking. Caddo Lake is known for its massive largemouth bass, and is also home to catfish, bream, and crappie. 

The lake is really easy to navigate because there are tons of piers and boat launches all around it. The habitats surrounding it make Caddo Lake one of the most beautiful bodies of water in Louisiana. In addition, on the Texas side of Caddo Lake, there have also been a surprisingly high number of alleged Bigfoot sightings. 

Caddo Lake
LocationShreveport, in the northwestern corner of Louisiana
Type of FishLargemouth bass, catfish, bream, yellow bass, white bass, sunfish, and crappie
Caddo Lake Louisiana

Many consider Caddo Lake to be one of the most beautiful lakes in America.

©iStock.com/westtexasfish

8. Lake Verret

Located within an hour of Baton Rouge, the 14,000-acre Lake Verret Is home to bream and bluegill, as well as bass and catfish. The lake borders the Elm Hall Wildlife Management Area, which provides plenty of opportunities for bird-watching and other natural sightseeing activities. 

This region is also very swampy, with a slow-moving bayou and lots of beautiful cypress trees. Not only is Lake Verret one of the best fishing lakes in Louisiana, but it is also a fantastic place for bird-watching. Many large birds like bald eagles, hawks, and osprey like nesting in the tall cypress trees here.

Lake Verret
LocationAssumption Parrish in southeastern Louisiana
Type of FishBass, white crappie, catfish, bluegill, mullet, freshwater drum, and bream
Bald cypress

As Lake Verret borders the Elm Hall Wildlife Management Area, the landscape features beautiful cypress trees.

©lazyllama/Shutterstock.com

9. Calcasieu Lake

One of the biggest lakes in Louisiana, Calcasieu Lake stretches out for more than 76 square miles. It is a brackish lake, which means it’s not quite freshwater but also not quite saltwater. Instead, it’s a unique blend of both, which makes it home to some pretty interesting creatures. People come from all over to try their luck at catching red drum or redfish, flounder, spotted sea trout or speckled trout, and shrimp. 

This beautiful 52,700-acre lake is south of Lake Charles and just to the east of the Texas-Louisiana border in southwest Louisiana. Most of the lake is located in Cameron Parish. In addition to fishing, Calcasieu Lake is also a great place for boating and bird-watching.

Calcasieu Lake
LocationCameron Parish in southwest Louisiana, just to the east of the Texas-Lousiana border
Type of FishSpeckled trout, redfish, flounder, shrimp, and catfish
Calcasieu Lake Louisiana

Calcasieu Lake is one of the most popular fishing spots near Baton Rouge.

©iStock.com/Leslie Hemmis

10. Henderson Lake

This 5,000-acre freshwater lake is one of the best fishing lakes in Louisiana, located in St. Martin Parish. The lake is part of the West Atchafalaya Basin, with lots of streams and pools scattered around it. Henderson Lake is the perfect place for catching fish like bream, bass, catfish, sac-a-lait, and crappie. It also offers a unique glimpse into the remarkable ecosystems of the Atchafalaya Basin, and many people love coming here to go on swamp tours. 

Henderson Lake has many public boat launches, as well as kayak and boat rentals nearby. In addition, Henderson Lake is really easy to get to, just east of Lafayette on I-10. The lake is also super close to the town of Henderson, with lots of fun things to check out like Cajun-themed attractions and delicious restaurants. 

Henderson Lake
LocationSt. Martin’s Parish in south-central Louisiana
Type of FishBream, bass, catfish, sac-a-lait, and crappie
A caught white crappie

Many in Louisiana call the white crappies of Henderson Lake “sac-a-laits”, the Cajun French name for crappie.

©Jennifer White Maxwell/Shutterstock.com

11. Lac des Allemands

With a maximum depth of just 10 feet, Lac des Allemands is a shallow but large lake that covers more than 12,000 acres in southeastern Louisiana. It has about 50 miles of shoreline lined with cypress trees, which makes for an incredibly beautiful setting. The lake’s shallow waters also provide lush habitats for many types of fish, including panfish, crappie, bass, catfish, and bream. 

In fact, Lac des Allemands has three different types of catfish (blue, channel, and flathead) that spawn in the lake during the warm months from May to September. The nearby community of Des Allemands even celebrates its title as the “Catfish Capital of the Universe” each year with the Louisiana Catfish Festival.

Lac des Allemands
LocationSoutheastern Louisiana near Des Allemands
Type of FishPanfish, crappie, bass, catfish, sac-a-lait, and bream
Lac des Allemands Louisiana

Lac des Allemands is 25 miles southwest of New Orleans.

©Stanley Dry/Shutterstock.com

12. Lake Claiborne

Last but not least on our list of best fishing lakes in Louisiana, we have the beautiful Lake Claiborne. This lake is the ultimate vacation spot for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy spending their days fishing, boating, camping, or just relaxing in a cozy cabin by the lake. Located in the north-central part of Louisiana in Homer, Lake Claiborne has about 40 miles of shoreline and more than 5,800 acres of beautiful water. There are lots of places for you to rent fishing gear and boats, and there are even local guides who can take you on the best fishing trips here. 

Lake Claiborne is especially popular with anglers because of its big bass population. There are also catfish, crappie, sunfish, stripers, gar, and bowfin here. You can use one of six different places to launch your boats, or enjoy the docks and fishing piers for a quieter experience.

Lake Claiborne
LocationThe north-central Louisiana town of Homer
Type of FishBass, catfish, crappie, sunfish, stripers, white perch, chain pickerel, gar, and bowfin
Lake Claiborne

There are many beautiful trails to explore in the woods surrounding Lake Clairborne.

©Norm Lane/Shutterstock.com

Summary of the 12 Best Fishing Lakes in Louisiana

Here’s a recap of the top 12 lakes for fishing that we took a look at in the state of Louisiana.

NumberLakeLocationFish
1Toledo Bend ReservoirSabine and DeSoto Parishes in northwestern LouisianaLargemouth bass, crappie, catfish, striped bass, white bass, and sunfish
2Caney LakePart of the Kisatchie National Forest, located in Webster Parish in northwestern LouisianaBream, catfish, crappie, large-mouth bass, white bass, and striped bass
3Bussey BrakeMorehouse Parish in northeastern LouisianaLargemouth bass, crappie, bream, red-ear sunfish, and bluegill
4Lake D’ArbonneFarmerville, in northern Louisiana’s Union ParishCrappie, largemouth bass, catfish, and bream
5Black Bayou LakeMonroe, in northern LouisianaLargemouth bass, crappie, catfish, bream, and sunfish
6Black LakeNorthern Louisiana between Creston and CamptiBass, crappie, blue catfish, spotted bass, and channel catfish
7Caddo LakeShreveport, in the northwestern corner of LouisianaLargemouth bass, catfish, bream, yellow bass, white bass, sunfish, and crappie
8Lake VerretAssumption Parrish in southeastern LouisianaBass, white crappie, catfish, bluegill, mullet, freshwater drum, and bream
9Calcasieu LakeCameron Parish in southwest Louisiana, just to the east of the Texas-Lousiana borderSpeckled trout, redfish, flounder, shrimp, and catfish
10Henderson LakeSt. Martin’s Parish in south-central LouisianaBream, bass, catfish, sac-a-lait, and crappie
11Lac des AllemandsSoutheastern Louisiana near Des AllemandsPanfish, crappie, bass, catfish, sac-a-lait, and bream
12Lake ClaiborneNorth-central Louisiana town of HomerBass, catfish, crappie, sunfish, stripers, white perch, chain pickerel, gar, and bowfin


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About the Author

Kellianne Matthews is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on anthrozoology, conservation, human-animal relationships, and animal behavior. Kellianne has been writing and researching animals for over ten years and has decades of hands-on experience working with a variety of different animals. She holds a Master’s Degree from Brigham Young University, which she earned in 2017. A resident of Utah, Kellianne enjoys creating, exploring and learning new things, analyzing movies, caring for animals, and playing with her cats.

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