December 20, 2010 9:07:00 AM
Everyone I have talked to lately is in shock over the cold weather we have been experiencing in our area. Guess what? The fish are feeling the same shock.
For the last several years it seems that we were all wearing short sleeved shirts up and until the January month, not every day but the majority of the time.
This year has been different in many aspects. The season started off by warming quicker than usual and then a drastic cool off just before the bass began their spawning ritual. It seemed that once the spawn had ended, summer showed up and there wasn''t much of a spring season. The fall season was warm and there wasn''t a transition from fall to winter. The weather has been a roller coaster for a few weeks now with deep winter temperatures when the bass should have been in their most active feeding frenzies.
The thing to remember is that the fish still have to feed up for the long winter ahead. They might not feed aggressively but they will need to feed up or they will not make it through the winter season.
Lure selection could be critical in adverse weather conditions. Think smaller when the weather is not cooperating. Another critical option is color. Remember, fish are finicky when they don''t want to move around and eat much. I would rather have a steak that have those grill marks on them than a steak that comes out of a pan any day.
Lures can still be crankbaits, worms, jigs, etc. ... but you want to use a smaller profile lure if the fish aren''t feeding much.
I know that some of you fishermen and women think that color is not a big factor but I strongly disagree. A couple of winters ago, a friend of mine and I fished religiously each weekend throughout the winter season. We would locate fish and have decent success using shakey head lures and using finesse worms. My partner and I were using a green pumpkin colored worm. The next day, it was not working. The weather was exactly the same as the day before and the sky was still overcast. The water temperatures were the same and there was still a cold front over our area.
After a couple of hours of absolutely no bites, I made a color change. I went with a dark purple colored worm and instantly started whacking fish. It didn''t take but a couple of fish in the boat and my partner made the change. The fish were still there from the day before but the color choice was completely different. Think about the color difference, an olive green color to purple. That was a whole different color on the color wheel.
Don''t be afraid to change colors even if your favorite color used to always catch fish because yesterday is not today.
The other thing to consider is speed. Slow, slow and slower should be the thought when the cold fronts come crashing past our area. I try to keep contact with the bottom at all times when fishing slowly. I know that the cold front conditions make the fish hold tight to cover and bottom structure. I also know that the bites are going to be subtle so concentration on what my lure is doing and touching is key to putting fish in the boat.
It is hard to concentrate on what your lure is dragging across when the cold wind is blowing and your hands and earlobes feel like they are in a freezer but concentration is everything in catching fish during a winter season cold front.
I will go one step further in saying that if you can develop the concentration to watch the line for the slightest differences and feels, you will be more successful during the normal season. I caught my biggest bass of the month of August, a seven pounder, in a tournament and never felt the fish pick it up or the slightest bite. I noticed the line slightly twitch and move no more than one half of an inch to the left and stop. I set the hook and had the big bass of the tournament.
Concentration on the line will help you even if the fish aren''t biting. It will keep you from feeling so cold.
Kevin Forrester is the outdoor writer for The Dispatch. Contact him at [email protected]