Fishermen make seasonal adjustments
By ERNIE MARTIN
Hook & Trigger
Water, water everywhere and the fishing is almost impossible if you fancy exploring the rivers and their deltas. The amount of rain that we have received over the past several months has left most of our waters unfishable and unsafe to boaters.
I hope that the rain will back off soon. The weather people call this phenomenon La Niña. I call it, time to empty out the honey do jar.
If you do get a chance to go fishing or you are about to be overcome by cabin fever, you might want to try a few of our local lakes and impoundments. In this issue, we’ll talk about the techniques that can lead to success.
January is a month that I like to call preseason. It’s kind of like with any sporting event. This is a time that if you are a competitive bass fisherman and you like to fish the local tournaments, you want to get ready to compete. This is the time of year you go to new waters and try new techniques. You may want to try some new gear, swap out gear, change your lines or check your reels. Clean your reels, take them apart and replace worn parts. Maybe revisit some of your old fishing haunts.
There are a lot of new techniques that will work, and a big part of bass fishing and competitive fishing is having confidence in your skill level and being able to switch gears as the weather dictates. So, I use this month to shift gears and practice, practice, practice, whether I am out casting in the yard or aiming for targets on the boat. Sometimes you can drive by my house and I may look kind of silly because I am in my boat throwing to targets in the yard. That’s just a way that I like to practice. But this is a month that you can mix it up and enjoy yourself.
This time of the year the lakes have turned over, which means the thermocline is typically a little bit lower. Use your depth-finders to find the fish. There are a lot of crappie still out there being caught. The bluegill and shellcracker are in deeper haunts and holding true to their areas. I’ve known a couple of people that have gone fishing and caught several freshwater species out of one area, if it had some depth, about 12 to 14 feet.
Lakes and rivers are about the same. The thing that you will have to deal with is these cold fronts. The water level is changing right now. Overflowing rivers will give fish a chance to fatten up and get out into the swamps and do some feeding. It also gives us a chance to replenish the lakes, oxbow lakes and other lakes that are adjacent to the rivers. Its gives them a chance to resupply and kind of rejuvenate that water source.
The opportunities that I will take this time of year will be playing the tide game, as usual, and using the lower parts of the river, spending part of my day practicing my casting and new techniques for bass. I will probably work around in the deeper haunts for the speckled trout and the redfish as well.
The reason is the season
In the lakes and ponds around here, fish slow and low and try to fish before a cold front. If you fish the day after and that sun comes out with those blue skies, it’s going to be real tough fishing. It really doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing.
If you fish in front of a cold front your success ratio will be a lot higher than waiting for the weather to clear up. Yes, it will be nice and warm, but the fish will feed just like a lot of the wildlife. They will feed in front of the cold front, then when the skies clear they will go dormant and slow down.
The metabolism on fish this time of the year is slower, so you must gear yourself up for slower fishing. Also, the bait that they feed on tends to be smaller than what they feed on in the late summer and early fall. You will need to gear your size of bait to match the food source that the fish are eating at this time.
When you are on the water, make sure that you pay attention to your signs. If you are fishing the deltas, pay attention to the tide flow. That has a lot to do with your success or failure on a trip. When you are in the lakes, pay attention to the water temperature and the color. More importantly the temperature, because those fish are going to hold where that water is most comfortable. You know that you would rather stay inside when it is 20 degrees outside, so those fish are going to find that thermocline where that water temperature warms up, and they are going to be in that climate. They will feed slower because there may not be as much food, but if you find them, get the bait close and be patient, you should have a successful trip.
As always, good luck and God bless. I hope to see you on the water.