Author Topic: Winter Fishing  (Read 2284 times)

Offline Jason

  • Global Moderator
  • Lunker
  • *****
  • Posts: 2304
  • Tight Lines!
Winter Fishing
« on: 11/28/10 11:15 UTC »
Understand this is being written from a Southern perspective where our low water temps may be around 50 degrees.

Winter fishing can be very rewarding for those who can stand the wind and cooler temps.  Overall the quality of the fish improves significantly, but the quantity drops.  If you are specifically targeting large fish you may go all day with only one or two bites, and as a general rule they will be subtle.

We don't normally have current, however, that may have changed with the new pumping station.  We'll see how that impacts fish positioning as Winter progresses.  Until the impact of the station can be determined, I will continue to target deep water structure (creeks, elevation changes, humps, points) and look for good cover near by.  As far as bait and presentation goes, this is where I look to bigger baits (just my preference) and a slow presentation.  I have had the most success in 20' - 30' of water with a 6" stick bait, 10" worm or a jig with a subtle trailer.  I believe the fish don't want a fight, which an active trailer would indicate.  I'll be testing this theory over the winter and let you know if it seems to make a difference.

There's always exceptions.  Some fish stay shallow, period.  I know a spot I can go that is 2' - 6' that I can pick fish up year around (I wish I knew a dozen spots like this!!!).  Another exception is caused by a combination of things like weather and vegetation.   On a sunny day if you can find good heavy grass near deep water, deep water fish will move up into it and be much more receptive to a reaction strike.

As far as technique goes.  A lot of bites are had off dead sticking or on the fall.  Use the least amount of weight you can.  The fish are trying to conserve energy and don't want a chase.  Slow is a real key here in the winter.  You may not feel the bite, watch your line.  Also, if your you lift your rod and it feels heavy - set the hook.  It may just be a stump, but it could be a fish, and last I checked hook-sets are free!

Well over half my largest fish have come during the winter months.  Even growing up in Kansas and fishing the lakes and ponds there and in Missouri.  The weather really impacts fish positioning.  Be aware of current conditions and use them to your advantage.  I've seen this in ponds, lakes and my fish tank.  When it's cold out and there is a heat source (the Sun) or vegetation, the fish will take advantage of it.  Ever see what cows do in the winter on a sunny day?  They turn sideways to the Sun.  Likewise, on an overcast day they turn their rumps into the wind.  Fish don't build rocket ships, but they have managed to survive for thousands of years through all kinds of conditions.  They do know how to leverage their environment.

You and the environment.  Don't roll up on a perfect spot where your boat is going to cast a huge shadow over it.  Wear layers, you can't take off what you don't have on, and being comfortable makes for a much more pleasant day.

Last but not least.  I don't know this for a fact, but I recently fell in the lake for the first time in 60 degree water.  It wasn't a huge deal but it got my attention.  I've heard that if you fall in 50 degree water, you have a 50% chance of living if you are in the water for more than 50 seconds.  I don't know if this is exact, but I bet it's not far from it.  Wear a life jacket.  Let someone know where you will be and when you will be back.  I don't have a ladder on my boat, but plan on adding one, we all should.

I hope you enjoy the winter months.  There is some great fishing to be had.  There's also the opportunity to see migratory wildlife that's only available in the winter.  Be safe.

Tight lines!

Jason