Wintertime Tactics: Is This Cheating?!

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In my last article I talked about some tactics that can help you catch fish in the wintertime with some general tips and tricks for this time of year. I went through a couple different lures and talked about using specific depth ranges to help maximize your time on the water just about wherever you are fishing. These are great tips but sometimes, especially this time of year, it can just be a grind to get bit, plain and simple. We have all had those days where we go out to your local lake or river and throw the tackle box at ‘em and all you’re left with at the end of the day is less gas in the tank and a runny nose. Sometimes you just need a location change.

If you have not tried it yet, you have to make a trip to a local power plant lake. With waters that are consistently warmer all year around, it enables the fish to feed more aggressively all year. A couple of weekends ago I went to Hyco Lake in North Carolina with a couple of the other guys on Liberty’s bass team. What I experienced was some of the most fun wintertime fishing I have ever had. We started off the morning dragging some jigs on an island, while the other friend threw a crankbait. We were not getting bit until I went to reel in my jig and one hit it fairly close to the boat. That immediately clued us in just a little bit. In the winter I have found it is so helpful to really listen to clues that the fish give you. Let them tell you what they want. After we caught another one swimming the jig, we switched to chatterbaits and got bit. Baitfish started busting all over the place and two and three pounders started rolling on baitfish busting less than 5 feet away. This helped us clue into what some of the fish were doing in the lake and we capitalized on it by throwing swimbaits catching over 30 bass before the sun set. It literally felt like we were cheating! You just are not supposed to catch them like that this time of year. And to bounce back to listening to clues, did I mention the water looked like chocolate milk? Our first thought was not to throw a subtle bait like a swimbait but it ended up being the most productive. Listen to the clues and try variants!

This just goes to show how productive power plant lakes can be in the winter time. Once we got clued into what the fish were doing, we found that the fish were super active and very aggressive, getting bit two or three different times in one cast. The warmer water temperatures allow the shad to have a higher survival rate and over years of this, we found the shad population to be really high and therefore the bass could stay active and feed heavier this time of year. Not to mention, a lot of times this time of year when you catch a fish out of low to mid 40 degree water, the fish won’t fight very hard whereas in a place where they just do not get that cold you can count on a harder fight. And who doesn’t like that? Give a warm water discharge power plant lake a shot this winter and see the difference!

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