Frosty Fishin’

Taking advantage of the colder temperatures to come


Photography by Corbet Deary

I don’t figure anybody would argue with the fact that our recent temperatures have been far from the norm. I can’t recall another December that has been so warm and muggy. Highs in the mid 70s on the eve and mid 60s on Christmas day, and thunderstorms for the following hours. That was certainly not normal in our state.

I suspect most anglers would also agree that these conditions have affected fishing. Rainfall and warm temperatures have led an approach conducive to the warmer months of the year. Bass can still be found feeding in unexpected depths. In fact, we recently caught a pretty good mess in waters ranging from 4-8 feet.

Although we all enjoyed the latter months of 2015, one would only suspect that “Ole Man Winter” still has something up his sleeve. Colder temperatures will likely arrive. And with this weather will come an adaptation below the water’s surface.

Those fish that have recently been frequenting the shallows will totally change their patterns. They’ll move to deeper water, many gathering in groups. Granted, finding these fish will prove a little more difficult. But those who are willing to brave the cold conditions and manage to find the fish are apt to see their fair share of success. However, those who fail to find productive waters can anticipate long, cold and miserable days lurking ahead.

Enough can’t be said for electronics during the winter months. The ability to locate creek channels, sunken structures and drop-offs is essential. It is also of utmost importance to determine the exact depth where the fish are congregating. Drop a hook a couple of feet too deep or too shallow, and one’s success rate is apt to drop exponentially.

outdoors3However, bass fishing can prove tremendous during the winter months. And I bear good news to those whose boat isn’t rigged with the most up-to-date and elaborate graphs. Not all is lost.

Sure, those anglers who are adept at using electronics will likely catch more fish with consistency. But one can also tell a lot about what lurks below the surface by paying attention to their surroundings.

That’s right, you’re looking for any indications of deep water, possible structure and the river channel. And in a perfect scenario, all three of these conditions can be located in the same section of water.

So, we’ve happened upon that potentially productive location. Now what? Proper presentation is the remaining ingredient of the recipe for success. Oh, and let’s not forget yet one more additive that is most crucial — a willingness to bite.

Even if the fish are in a feeding mode, it’s important to understand that they are affected by water temperature. Bass are notoriously slower during the colder months. Those fish that were so aggressive during the summertime are now much less likely to bolt in the direction of the lure. In fact, their bites are also more subtle, to the point that the slightest change resistance might be the only indication one is on the line’s end.

As for presentation, the angler should choose a lure that will run deep at slower speeds. Some crankbaits are designed with this type of fishing in mind. Jig and pigs are also extremely effective during the winter, as are soft plastics rigged on a leadhead or with a slip sinker. Spinnerbaits can also be fished effectively during during this time of the year.

The key is to allow them to sink and retrieve them slowly. How about those who have a sweet tooth for crappie? They too can be caught consistently during the wintertime. In fact, this is the season when they really gather around structure.outdoors2

I’ll be the first to admit that electronics are most essential to effectively fish for crappie during the coldest months. But rest assured that those who do manage to locate them are apt to experience some of the best action they’ll see throughout the entire year.

Fishing for striped and white bass can also prove productive when the water temperature drops. But they also must be located. On a positive note, if you find one, you likely located an entire school. Consider focusing on river channels. A lot of folks troll this type of habitat during the winter season, with great success. The key is presenting them with something that resembles one of their favorite foods — shad.

I’ll be the first to admit that extra steps have to be taken during the coldest months of the year.

But those who are willing to brave the weather and manage to locate the right waters are apt to experience their share of success. So don your winter attire, tie on a deep running lure and give it a whirl. Who knows, you might just get hooked.

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