January 3, 2011 9:22:00 AM
Well, Santa Claus has come and gone and in came the new year.
The weather has basically done the same. The cold weather for December has gone and the weather forecast is suggesting the days are tending to be warmer than usual.
December was colder than normal, bringing water surface temperatures down some 10 to 15 degrees below what we normally see in our area. This put fishing in a tough situation with bites only coming maybe once an hour.
The recent forecast trend could be a gold mine for us anglers.
It only takes a warming trend for a couple of days to put the fish in a feeding mood. The fish know it won''t last so they restore lost weight so they can continue to survive during the winter.
Although I wouldn''t necessarily recommend throwing a buzzbait, there are going to be warm days that an angler can fill the livewell using lures that can cause a reaction strike from the fish.
I had the occasion several years ago to go fishing on a warming trend in the winter time. It was early February and Ken Lowry and I took the opportunity to fish in a backwater area. We weren''t really expecting to catch much, but we both wanted to be outside.
I was easing around on the trolling motor and saw a nice sized stump sticking out of the water and it had been in the sun all day. I made the comment that it looked like a good spot to throw a frog and Lowry thought I was crazy. I dug in my rod box and found a frog still tied on to one of my rods from the months prior.
I cast the frog past the stump and worked the topwater lure slowly up to it. I stopped the lure and just let it sit there for a few seconds and started to move it again. The water flushed and the frog was gone. I set the hook and fought a nice 7-pound fish back to the boat.
That was the only bite on the frog that winter day.
No, the frog is not the primary choice for lures to catch fish in the winter months. In fact, the pros will tell you that once the water surface temperatures go below the 65-degree mark, your success on a frog is rare.
What this should tell you is during a warming trend, the typical slow bite day might not be in the crystal ball. I wouldn''t be afraid to work spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and other fast-paced lures sometime during the fishing day.
Remember this is the perfect time to catch quality fish. Even though the fish''s metabolism slows dramatically during the colder water temperatures, a large fish will get hungry long before a small fish will.
A fisheries biologist published scientific findings that a 1-pound fish can consume a medium-sized shad and will not feed for another 48-72 hours. The fish''s metabolism is so slow that it takes that long to digest the food. On the other hand, a nice quality fish over 4 pounds can consume a medium-sized shad and will feed again within 24 hours.
So it is not "all" luck in catching quality fish during winter months; there is actually science behind it.
The forecast for February seems even more promising with trends to warm up for an early spring. This will also get the big girls staging for a possible early spawn.
Who knows, we all know how forecasts go.
I am looking at this as the glass half full and not half empty.
Kevin Forrester is the Outdoor Writer for The Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.