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February 2002

Spring is on its way and the days are getting longer.  All the bass fishermen are starting to get that old familiar feeling.  Anytime that you get a halfway warm day you can hear your buddies say ďLetís go fishingĒ.  That phrase sounds good to me all year long but after winter storms cancel many fishing trips, it sounds like heaven.  When you get to the lake the water is still cold even though the air temperature is nice.  This throws many anglers into a state of panic and they ask ďWhat do I do to catch a bass in cold water?Ē

Last winter was the longest and coldest that I can remember.  I had the fishing fever so bad by the end of December that I didnít think that I was going to make it.  The water was frozen on most of the local lakes.  January was not much better.  But finally we got a break in the cold weather and as soon as I thought that the layer of ice was gone, I called a friend and we went to the lake.  Neither of us had high hopes for catching lots of bass.  We both thought that if we could just catch one little bass or maybe a walleye, we would be proud.  The surface temperature was only 35.2 degrees when we launched my boat.  We ran across the lake to my best pocket because the wind was howling.  We pulled up and started throwing all sorts of baits.  I started with a jig and Jerry started with a small rogue that we had weighted with lead wire to make it suspend.  I had the boat sitting in about twelve feet of water and I didnít think that that was enough.  Just about the time I started to move into deeper water, Jerry set the hook.  He reeled in a nice three pounder.  I remember thinking that he probably caught the only fish that was in that shallow of water.  I continued to fish the deeper water while Jerry kept throwing into about four foot of water.  The next thing I knew, he set the hook again.  This fish was only a fifteen inches long but it sure looked like fun.  That was enough for me, I tied on a 3/8 oz spinner bait and started to slow roll it in four to eight foot of water.  On my third cast I got to feel that super sensation of my rod getting bent.  I reeled the fish to the boat and it was another three pounder.  This went on for about an hour.  We each caught several fish that day and had a blast doing it.

This year mother nature has been a little kinder to us temperature wise, but I still had the fever bad.  I had a weekday off and I decided to go fishing.  I couldnít find anyone to go with me so I loaded up and went by myself.  The wind was relentless.  It must have been blowing thirty-five miles per hour.  Anybody who has fished in the winter knows that the wind on the water is much colder than the wind on the bank.  The surface temp was 38.5 degrees.  I ran across the lake to the same pocket that we caught them last year and dropped the trolling motor.  I remember thinking how happy I was even with the wind to just be out on the water.  I started with a rogue and I worked the whole pocket.  Not a bite was to be had.  I decided before I left, I would try it again with a spinnerbait.  I pulled my spinnerbait rod out of the rod box and started chunking the white and blue spinnerbait that was tied on.  I noticed three large boulders in about six feet of water.  I threw my bait over the rocks and slow rolled it to one of them.  I slowly drug it over the top and then let it flutter down to the bottom.  I slowly reeled it back to the boat.  I made several casts to those rocks when all of the sudden I felt a tick on my line.  It felt just like a crappie.  I jerked and started reeling it in.  The fish wasnít pulling very hard so I planned to just swing him into the boat.  Then I saw the fish for the first time.  It was a nice fish so I leaned down and lipped it.  This bass went 4.90.  I made several more casts at the same spot and caught another bass about three pounds.  I also got to see a four pounder come up and try to eat my spinnerbait as I picked it up out of the water.  That was all that I caught that day but I was happy.

My entire life I have heard that when the water is cold the fish will be deep.  I donít doubt that there are many bass that are.  I just donít fish that way often and I am limited to the water that I know.  When you get a warm day during the winter, donít be afraid to go out and try to catch them in less than seven feet deep.  I have proved it time after time in the fall, winter, and spring that you can still catch them fairly shallow. 

There are a few things to keep in mind when going fishing in the winter.  First of all you need to remember that the water is very cold.  If you fall out of the boat, you will not be able to swim very long before hypothermia sets in.  Always wear a life jacket.  Also remember that even though it may be 55 degrees at your house, the wind on top of that cold water will be cold.  Take lots of clothes and wear them in layers.  You can always take them off if you get hot. 

Winter bassing can be intimidating if you donít have much experience.  Donít let that stop you though.  You stand a good chance of catching a true trophy.

Leave a few for seed,

Chris Roberts