Chatham, LA Fishing: Fishing at the Gateway to Caney Lake

Amazing bass fishing awaits in Chatham, Louisiana.

Chatham, LA Fishing: Fishing at the Gateway to Caney Lake
Chatham, LA Fishing: Fishing at the Gateway to Caney Lake
Team Guidesly

November 8, 2022, 6 min read

Updated on November 3, 2022

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Chatham is a small town part of Jackson Parish in north central Louisiana. It is part of the Ruston Micropolitan Statistical Area, is home to just over 500 residents, and is easily accessible from LA Highways. Chatham was part of ‘The Old Natchitoches Road,’ s one of the most used early transportation trails that didn’t run through water. Indians extensively used the trail to transport Louisiana salt works’ salt to the many Indian villages along the route. In 1700, the Indian trail was also part of French colonial administrator Sieur de Bienville’s road to reach the Natchitoches from Lake Providence by Chatham. Chatham was later founded as ‘The Second Wagon Train’ following subsequent exploration and earlier settlement. There have been debates among the local population about the origins of the town’s name. Some residents say that Chatham was formerly called Avard and later renamed Chathamville. In 1908, it was called Chatham. Others say that the names Avard and Chathamville were used at the same time.

The most beautiful thing about Chatham is its inland fishing community. It should be one of the places anglers should consider if they decide where to go on their Louisiana fishing vacations. Despite its size, there are plenty of things to do and discover. Recreational activities such as boating, swimming, and camping are popular in the area because of their ideal outdoor environments. It also has the advantage of being located near other towns and cities that are also excellent fishing destinations. Anglers looking for a peaceful fishing getaway will find that Chatham has everything they need for that trip. 

Chatham Fishing

silhouette of anglers fishing on the lake

Chatham can be described as a lakefront town as its northern border is nestled against a lake with the same name. It also has the benefit of being the gateway to one of the best fishing sites in Louisiana. Plenty of lakes and rivers can be found around the area whether an angler wants to fish from the shores or by boat.

Chatham Lake is found in the immediate north of the town. Its pretty surroundings make it an excellent place for scenic fishing and watersports. The lake is not overcrowded, making it the perfect place to relax and enjoy the outdoors. The primary target fish one can catch from Chatham Lake is largemouth bass. The town regularly stocks the lake to accommodate fishing any time of the year. There is a fishing pier and dock where anglers and boaters can launch their boats, canoes, and kayaks for free. Chatham Lake is large enough to accommodate water skiers, tubers, paddlers, and jet skiers. There is a marina that serves delicious food and provides live entertainment during the weekends. There is also a covered picnic area close to the dam. The best way to catch fish from the lake is to find shady or grassy areas near the banks. Most anglers employ simple baitcasting and spinning techniques to hook their targets. 

Chatham is known as the Gateway to Caney Lake. Caney Lake (also known as Caney Creek Reservoir) is found southwest of the community. Anglers can find fish species such as largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, white bass, yellow bass, black crappie, white crappie, blue catfish, channel catfish, rainbow trout, Atlantic mackerel, bluegill, redear sunfish, redbreast sunfish, and green sunfish. Caney Lake is considered one of the best fishing spots in the state, even though it is assumed to be lightweight and located in a fairly secluded part of the parish. It is known for its fantastic big bass fishing and crappie fishery. The lake produces lunker bass, producing six of the top ten largest largemouth bass ever recorded in Louisiana. It is believed that dense grassy beds and healthy waters are why it is such an ideal fish habitat. There are also good populations of catfish and bream species that reside in its waters. The 5,200-acre crystal clear lake has over 50 miles of shoreline and 11 fishing piers, providing plenty of access to anglers who like to cast their lines from land. Jimmie Davis State Park, located on the north side of the lake, has plenty of boat launch ramps available for public use. The best bait bass anglers use on the lake are plastic lizards, jigs, and Wacky Worms. Dark colors work best when cloudy, while gold flake and watermelon colors work well when sunny. A slow presentation is preferred if an angler wants to hook a fish successfully. Using deep-diving crankbaits or worms with larger weights is best when fishing out on the lake’s points. Just about anywhere on the lake’s banks produces fish, but good fishing can also be done along creek channels, humps, and off-points. 

Caney Lake is one of three small north Louisiana lakes that host a day of the Annual Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour. These annual fishing tours take the tournament to multiple sites all over the country to see who can catch the best and biggest bass. The lake also hosts an Open Crappie Tournament held by the Crappie Fishermen United of Louisiana at Hooks Marina. Anyone who enters the competition must use a single pole, spider, long lines, and live or artificial bait. Only two people can be on one boat, and the fish caught must be alive.


Top 10 Fish Species in Chatham, LA

The top 10 fish species found in Chatham, LA, are largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, white bass, yellow bass, black crappie, white crappie, blue catfish, channel catfish, and bluegill.

Seasonal Fishing

The best month to catch bass species is in April. Bass fishing is typically best in the spring and the early summer due to the water temperatures being ideal for spawning. Anglers can fish for crappie from November through February, especially in deeper water. They can also be targeted during their spawning season, which occurs in the early spring, peaking in March. Catfish can be caught any time of the year, but late March, April, and May are the prime months. Catching bluegill is best done when they spawn, usually lasting from May through August, sometimes reaching into September. Sunfish species are best caught during late spring into the summer months.

Go On a Crawl Around Chatham

Chatham has some great places and fun activities in and around the area for visitors to stop by and enjoy. 

1. Book a Fishing Charter

Anglers can find plenty of offshore fishing charters in Louisiana or Louisiana inshore fishing charters that can help them improve their overall fishing experience. Some of the best fishing charters in the state are Fowl Language Guide Service, Cajun Outcast Inshore Charters, Ron Ron Fishing Charters, and Get'n Hooked Inshore Adventures. Boat rental services, fishing gear, equipment rentals, and bait and tackle shops can be found around prominent fishing areas. Anglers are urged to have their Louisiana fishing license ready before fishing in the state’s local waters. 

2. Lakeside Fun

Jimmie Davis State Park isn’t only for anglers but is a fantastic place for outdoor recreation for the whole family. One can appreciate the beautiful mixed pine and hardwood forest surrounding the lake. Aside from fun watersports, people can go cycling, hiking, camping, picnicking, and wildlife-watching through its treks and hills. Cabins, lodges, campsites, and RV campers are available for those who plan to stay longer. 

3. Join the Celebrations

Chatham has two main events each year; the 4th of July Parade and the Chatham Christmas Parade. The 4th of July Parade is usually held on the Saturday before the weekend of the 4th. Both events have fireworks displays after dark. Residents and visitors are encouraged to participate in the annual events to feel the small community’s welcoming and joyful spirit.

Fish in Chatham and beyond.