It has been a miserable couple of weeks since my last bass outing entry. The weather has been awful for a die hard fish lipper such as myself. It has just been brutally cold. So cold to where it is beyond shivering, your bones actually hurt. I can recall jumping into my frozen Chevy Suburban on a frigid Saturday morning and my temperature gauge read -19 degrees. Hopefully the housing market gets better so my beautiful wife Bri and I can move somewhere in the South. But until then, I’ll suck it up and not take for granted the couple of “lucky for me” spots that I have where I can still stick football sized smallmouth when the weather permits.
Today Matt and I where blessed with a “heat wave”, all of 35 degrees, and made it a point to get out and exercise the smallmouths. It was blue bird skies when we started the air temp was only 20 degrees, but trust me, it felt like 70. The fishing was good right away. I caught a dozen or so pretty quick. The only issue was the lack of size. They were all dinks. I was using my bread and butter, a 3″ YUM Mega Tube (green pumpkin), with an 1/8 oz. Kalin’s tube jig. I was working the tube near a laydown, that was serving as an ambush point for the smallmouths. They like to hide on the down river side of the brush and when some food source comes by they ambush it. I am limited to the angles I can cast to being that I was fishing from shore. I don’t think it is a good idea to dump my 20 ft. Ranger in a super shallow, rock infested body of water in the dead of winter. Matt was fishing some scattered rock mixed with sand and really wasn’t getting many bites. After a while my laydown stopped producing and I to was looking for a new spot. We stumbled across an area that was very shallow and the water was moving across at a pretty good rip. I thought with the sun getting higher and the temp warming a bit that maybe this area would hold a nice school of fish. It turned out it did. Nice ones to. After a few unsuccessful casts I laid into the best of the day, and after that it was one good one after another. Smallmouth bass are like that. They tend to hang out in little wolf packs. If you can get one to bite you can really stimulate the activity level of the school. It is really common to be fighting a fish to the boat and seeing two, three, or even four smallies with him. They’re actually competing for the bait. Although like I said before, if you break one off or don’t get a good hook set, it is just like you turned the light switch off, they’re done.
After a quick burger stop we decided to try another spot. It was much slower though. The sun tucked behind the clouds and the fish were few and far between. After close to an hour without a fish I decided to make a switch. I put on a prototype lure from Stick ‘Em Lure Company called the Mississippi River Fathead (green pumpkin w/ black flake). It is a 3.5″ soft plastic with a fat head and a ribbed body. Fished properly it imitates a feeding minnow pecking at the bottom. Not having the right jig for the job I decide to give it a try any way. I was thinking maybe the crawfish bite turned off and the minnow bite may entice more bites. In five minutes I caught five fish. I was pretty excited when I set into a HUGE bass. It was easy 4 plus pounds. She started dancing and jumping all over and on one jump managed to come unbuttoned. Wouldn’t you know it that fish ended up proven my earlier point, the school vanished.
Looking at the forecast I can see nothing good about the upcoming weather. More negative double digits. But hey, on the bright side, for every day that passes brings me that much closer to Spring. I can’t wait for my upcoming tournament season!