From the time I first entered the property, I knew it was in a special place. The classy entrance sign and fishy-looking lakes I passed heading for the pro shop strengthened that opinion. Along the way I saw a top-notch skeet range and acre after acre of perfect quail habitat.
Entering the shop, Jeff Blanton, the fisheries manager of the area, met me with a big smile and a handshake. He told me we had a great shot at a big bass, and after what I saw on the way in, as well as the plantation’s reputation, I had no doubts. The lakes produce bass over 14 pounds almost every year, with the largest so far being a 15.68-pounder. And, bass are not the only target. Trophy crappie and bluegill are also commonly caught.
I hoisted my tackle over the side of Jeff’s Ranger Z21 Comanche bass boat rigged with a 250 horsepower Mercury Verado outboard. The gas motor had about 240 more horsepower than needed because the area has an “idle-speed only” rule for gasoline motors. Those extra horses come in handy, though, when Jeff fishes the big reservoirs in Georgia and Florida. Within the first few minutes of fishing, Jeff laid back into a fat 5-pound bass and I learned about the trophy crappie. A 14-inch crappie ate my full-size bass jerkbait. While bass are catch-and-release only, anglers can keep crappie over 12 inches, so I eased the slab into the livewell. My best lure for crappie that day was a 1/8-oz. Blakemore Road Runner head with a Bass Assassin jalapeno (black/chartreuse) 1-inch Shad.
Jeff and I went on to boat more than 30 bass up to 8 pounds and black crappie up to a pound-and-a-half. Bass Assassin plastic lizards, spinnerbaits, and jerkbaits accounted for most of our bass that particular day. On other trips since, trophy bass have inhaled topwaters, jigs, and plastic crayfish punched through vegetation. Whatever your favorite presentation, you will catch bass on it at Bienville. These lakes are reclaimed phosphate pits, and when the mining company put the fill material back, they created points, humps, drop-offs, and flats, all structure that became a bass magnet when the lake refilled. The phosphate in the soil naturally “fertilizes” the water, bumping up productivity and bass growth.
For a trip to Bienville, your usual bass gear will work well. Make sure to take a flipping stick, a medium outfit for crankbaits and soft jerkbaits, and a medium-heavy baitcasting outfit. The medium-heavy outfit will probably be the workhorse during your trip. An outfit that works well for this application is a medium-heavy action 6-foot, 10-inch Team All Star rod paired with a Pflueger Patriarch reel spooled with 17-pound test Vicious Fluorocarbon line. I like the 7.1:1 ratio Patriarch because you can quickly reel in and make another pitch.
Make sure to take a spinning rod if you like finesse fishing (drop-shots, shakey heads, light worms). A perfect outfit for finessing is a 6-foot, 8-inch medium-action Pflueger President rod and Supreme No. 8035 reel spooled with 10-pound test Vicious Fluorocarbon. If crappie or bluegill are your target, a light-action spinning outfit is in order. My favorite is a 6-foot light-action Pflueger Microspin rod paired with a Pflueger Medalist No. 7025 reel and spooled with 6-pound test Vicious Panfish Monofilament.
Bienville Plantation advertises that you can “fish where the pros go.” Some of the B.A.S.S. Elite Series pros who have recently fished there are Peter Thliveros, Bernie Schultz, and Shaw Grigsby. Patrick Pierce, a B.A.S.S. Southern and Central Tour pro, also hones his skills at the plantation. During the next couple months, do not be surprised if one of the top-name pros pulls up beside you at the clubhouse headed out to keep their edge sharp for the upcoming Bassmaster Classic.
Much of the printed press and many television shows focus on trophy bass fisheries south of the border, but this high-quality bass fishery is located in White Springs, Florida.
“At Bienville, we have the best bass fishing this side of Mexico,” Jeff boasted. And, I believe him!
There are several ways to experience the fantastic fishing at Bienville Plantation. You may hire a guide for a day of fishing or you may lease some of the plantation lakes. Lodging and meals are available at the plantation, and it is a perfect location for corporate trips. There is no better place to seal the deal than on a bass boat catching trophy bass. Your guide will stay up-to-date on what lures the fish are biting, and you can pick up any last minute lures at the Bienville pro shop.
Whether trying to cure cabin fever, plan a corporate get-away, or just experience first-class fishing, give Bienville Plantation a try.
Contact: Bienville Plantation; www.bienville.com; 386-397-1989.