January 31, 2010 12:13:00 AM
In our area, winter time normally gives us passing cold fronts and slow-biting bass.
Air temperatures and water temperatures rise and fall like a roller-coaster so the fish you caught on Saturday are not cooperating on Sunday afternoon.
A good friend of mine and I were able to fish for a couple of hours one Saturday and were on the water by 2 p.m. The fish weren''t biting at first, but they seemed to wake up and it turned into a good time of fishing. The best fish were caught on a jig, but the majority of the fish were caught on soft plastics.
The very next day, my brother-in-law and I slipped out for a few hours of fishing and we hardly got a bite.
After some research, it was said that the cold water temperatures slow a bass'' metabolism. In 70 degree water, a 2-pound bass will consume a 2-inch shad and will begin to feed within six hours. In 50-degree water, the same bass consuming the same shad will not begin to feed for some 48 hours.
With a bass'' metabolism being slower, research also stated that the strike zone of the fish is considerably smaller. The strike zone is the area around the fish that it will travel to feed.
In colder temperatures and after a cold front, the strike zone is only a couple of inches. Fish will typically hold tight to some type of cover or structure and become lethargic.
Most professional fishermen tell us weekend anglers that smaller baits and slower presentations are the best way to make a fishing day somewhat productive. With the fish not wanting to travel to feed, you will need to fish close to wood cover or drop-off ledges and use a very slow retrieve.
If you are not making contact with this cover or structure, chances are you will not get a bite.
Multiple pitches or casts to the same piece of cover are also needed. Anglers will pull a lure past a lay-down log and will move on if they don''t get a bite.
Jay Yelas, the 2002 Bassmaster Classic champion, said numerous casts to the same piece of cover can be the very thing needed to entice a non-aggressive fish into biting.
If you have ever been to large tournaments like the Bassmaster Classic or the FLW Championship, you will remember the fish tanks that the pros would be fishing in showing their sponsors baits and giving tips. There are several fish in those tanks and most of those fish are not interested in the different lures swimming by them.
This only shows how many times we, as weekend fishermen and women have pulled lures past the eyes of a fish without getting a bite.
A few warmer days usually begin to fill the boat launch areas with boats. This doesn''t however mean that the fish will be in high gear feeding.
Water temperatures normally have to rise a few degrees to make fish feel like feeding more actively. But it sure beats not fishing.
If I had the choice of enduring a love-story movie with the wife or going fishing, give me fishing. If I''m not catching fish, at least I am getting better at my casting and pitching accuracy.
Kevin Forrester contributes an outdoor column each week to The Commercial Dispatch. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org