Early spring fishing can be some of the best trips of the year. I recently fished a small local lake that typically has a ton of people fishing it. To my delight, I had the entire place to myself. The fishing at this lake was much better than normal, mainly due to the lack of fishing pressure.
The water temperature was in the high 40’s, which was much warmer than I had anticipated. I found the bass in 3-4 foot of water, but close to deeper water. This is a standard place to look for bass in late winter and early spring. Bass like to move up and down the water column looking for the warmest water at this time of year. I caught the bass on a Rapala Shad Rap and a Berkley Flicker Shad.
The crappies and trout were located on a flat in about 3-5 foot of water. Both species seemed to be close to stumps and brush piles. This is a very common place to find crappies this time of year. Crappies will spawn in water temperatures between 50-60 degrees. These fish were already thinking about spawning. I caught the crappies and trout on a float and hair jig tipped with Berkley Gulp.
If you are willing to put on some extra layers of clothes and battle the cold, then I think you may be surprised how successful you might be. I was able to catch some nice bass, crappie, and trout on this trip.
My first kayak trip this year was met with some very muddy water. We have had record level floods, which made the lake look more like chocolate milk than water!
I fished a small lake at winter pool. You couldn’t launch a boat in the lake because the only boat ramp is still on dry ground.
In muddy cold water, I like to use bright lures that make a lot of vibration so the fish can find the bait. I used a Berkley Flicker Shad on this trip. This crankbait has a tight wobbling action that I like. It also has rattles, so the fish can hear the bait coming through the water.
I only managed a few bites on this trip, but with the water conditions the way they were I was very happy with that. If all the fish I catch are this big, I will have a great year!
I recently spent a few dollars at Bass Pro Shops. These are the baits and tackle that I will be using very soon.
I bought some new Sufix Performance Braid line for crappie fishing. I have heard good things about this line, so I thought I would give it a try. Braided line helps throw and skip light weight baits a long distance. It also has great sensitivity for feeling the fish bight. I also bought some weedless Nail Head Jigs. I started using these a couple of years ago, and really like them. They work great around wood cover and docks.
Swim baits are great in clear water. I like the Bass Pro Squirmin Shad and the Bass Pro Speed Shad. This time of the year the water can be very clear and these baits mimic a real bait fish almost identically. Swim baits can be used in both shallow and deep water depending on the weight of the jig head. I also like swim baits this time of year because they can be worked very slowly. The bass will be very lethargic right now, and you typically need a very slow presentation to entice the strike.
With the warm weather fast approaching, it’s just a matter of time before these baits start catching fish.
January comes around and deer season is over. Well, not exactly. This is a great time to scout your woods for next year.
I like to get in the woods right after season. I look for trails that the deer have recently been traveling. If you wait a few more months when the weather warms, the deers travel pattern may change some. Scouting now gives you real time data that can be used again next year. One thing that I have learned over the years of hunting and scouting is, deer will change their travel patterns often.
Also, I like to keep an eye out for scrapes and rubs. You can usually find an area of the woods that has been worked over harder by bucks than other areas. Finding these could be key to having success next fall. You may find a big bucks home area where he spends the majority of his time during season.
Just because you can’t go hunting for deer January, doesn’t mean you can’t get into the woods. Go scouting and you may be surprised by what you find. You may even find an early shed antler. I am sure it will make you a more successful hunter next season.
On these cold winter days, it is nice to have an excuse to start the oven to help warm the house. I baked fish yesterday and it turned out very tasty! This recipe is full of flavor and very quick to make.
I started out spraying cooking spray in a 9 x 13 baking dish. I sprinkled some St. Elmo seasoning on the fillets.
Next, in a separate bowl I melted 4 tablespoons of butter. To the melted butter I added more St. Elmo seasoning, Kosher salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, lemon and lime juice.
I drizzled the seasoned butter over the fish fillets. If you like a little crunch, you can add Panko bread crumbs to the top of the fillets. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. That is it! This was a great dinner with virtually no clean up afterwards. That is my kind of baking.
3-4 whitefish fillets [Any whitefish will work]
A sprinkle St. Elmo seasoning over the fillet
4 tbs of melted butter
1/2 tsp of St. Elmo seasoning
1/4 tsp of Kosher salt
1/4 tsp of paprika
1/4 tsp of onion powder
1/4 tsp of garlic powder
1/2 tsp of lemon juice
1/4 tsp of lime juice
Winter is a great time to get out and look for some great fishing spots. Many lakes are lowered in the winter. There are two things I really like about lakes being lowered in the winter. They concentrate the fish in a much smaller area. Secondly, you can see some great structure that is usually covered by feet of water.
Winter fishing can be difficult, but also very rewarding. You need to have the mindset that you may only get a couple of bites during the trip, but they may be from the biggest fish that live in the lake. Fish will be concentrated in very specific spots. I call these high percentage spots, because there is a high percentage a fish is living there and you will likely catch one there. I look for bluff banks that drop off quickly. This allows fish to go deep to shallow without using much energy. This also allows your lure to be in the strike zone for a long period of time. You may only have to move your lure a few feet but the depth may change drastically. I also like to fish isolated cover such as boulders or stumps. Again, this kind of structure concentrates fish and allows you to have your bait in the strike zone for a long time. You may have to make multiple casts in the same location to get a fish to bite in cold water. This is another reason why I like to fish high percentage spots.
Winter is also a great time to take pictures of a lowered lake. Take pictures of rock piles, logs, stumps, drop offs, anything that a fish will call home in the spring and summer. Use these pictures later in the year along with your depth finder to find those spots many anglers will miss. Make sure to take some notes so you know exactly where to go back to once the lake is back to its normal level.
Next time we get a nice warm day this winter, use this time to scout out some new fishing spots on your favorite lake. The time invested now, will pay off by putting more fish in the boat later.
Buying fishing gear for another angler can be difficult. When it comes to buying lures, the task becomes even more challenging. All fisherman have specific lures they like and some they do not. The selection of lures is endless and can be overwhelming for someone that is not a fisherman. Here are some lure options that every bass fisherman will enjoy.
Topwater lures are favorites for most fisherman. There is something exciting about seeing a big bass exploding on topwater. Most topwater lures cost between $5-$15. The buzzbait is a lure that can catch fish almost anywhere. It is a great lure for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Frogs are another great topwater option. These lures work well in lakes, ponds, and rivers. Check out my previous post about topwater lures here.
Crankbaits are another lure that you can’t go wrong with. Most crankbaits cost between $5-$10. I suggest buying medium diving crankbaits. Bass spend a lot of time in water depths from 2-6 feet. These lures work great in this water depth. Bass fisherman can never have enough crankbaits!
Soft plastic lures are a staple for most bass fisherman. A bag of soft plastic lures should cost about $3-$7. One soft plastic that we all own and love to use is a Senko style bait. These baits are very soft and tear easily, so you can never have too many Senkos. A second soft plastic option is a Beaver style bait. These baits are great for punching heavy cover and skipping boat docks. Pick up a pack or two of natural looking colors and you will be good to go.
This holiday season show the angler in your family that you can buy some great lures for them. These are lures that they will truly use and not forget about in the bottom of their tackle box.