Two trips last week indicated this winter is not going to be a warm one. I went to Jordan lake near Montgomery Alabama on Wednesday to get information for an Alabama Outdoor News article then went to Jackson on Friday for information for a Georgia Outdoor News article.
Wednesday was not terrible. I met Nate Johnson at 8:00 AM and, while waiting at the dock, debated if I needed my heaviest clothing. I was fairly comfortable standing on the dock in my jacket, but the wind was growing stronger so I decided to put my Cabellas Guidewear suit on. The weather guessers said the wind would be calm by 10:00 AM but I know better than trust their predictions.
The wind never calmed down, it just got stronger. And blowing across the 51-degree water made it feel even colder. And the fish did not bite. Nate has won several January tournaments there in the past with five bass weighing over 20 pounds total, but neither of us hooked a fish that day.
Our excuse was the water had come up over a foot and gone from very clear to stained almost overnight due to the heavy rains. And the water temperature dropped a couple of degrees due to the cold nights and wind. All those things can make fishing tough this time of year.
Friday I met Willie McMullen at Jackson at 7:30 and had no doubt I needed my Guidewear. Willie grew up on Jackson Lake and his father Wayne and uncle Ronnie McMullen were well known for their great catches on Jackson. Before he died a few years ago Wayne taught Willie everything he knew, starting him tournament fishing over 30 years ago when Willie was only nine years old.
Last weekend on New Years Eve Willie won a tournament at Jackson with five bass weighing almost 15 pounds. But once again the changing weather and lake level changed the fishing. He landed four bass in the seven hours we fished but I never had a bite. I was too busy taking notes and pictures to fish – that is my excuse and I am sticking with it.
To anyone other than a diehard bass fisherman, we were crazy to fish on a day when the high temperature was in the mid-30, it was cloudy and rainy and snow was in the forecast. But to me it was the perfect kind of day to fish this time of year. Low pressure and clouds often mean the bass bait good in the winter.
One Christmas this was proved to me at Clarks Hill. I got up that morning to find my boat parked at my mobile home at Raysville Boat Club covered with six inches of snow. I raked enough off the front deck to get to my trolling motor foot control and to stand without slipping down.
After putting the boat in I idled out to a point where I have caught fish in the past in January. The wind was howling as a cold front move in and the air temperature was in the low 30s. The water temperature was about 50 degrees.
For two hours, every time I dropped a spoon down it never got to the bottom. I landed hybrids, stripers, largemouth bass, white bass, white perch and crappie from that point. Since my live wells were frozen shut I just threw the fish in the snow in the bottom of the boat. When I went in I had to climb over the windshield to get to the drivers seat.
I quit fishing because as soon as the wind blew the cloud cover away and the pressure jumped up the fish stopped biting. I kept trying for about 30 minutes after the last bite but they were just gone.
Another Christmas the wind was blowing sleet sideways one morning. I tried to fish some points but it was just too cold and rough, so I idled behind an island where the bank dropped off fast into deep water and was covered with rocks. And best of all I was out of the wind.
Within a few minutes, I hooked and landed a bass weighing just over eight pounds on a Deep Wee R. After landing it I decided I had used up my luck and headed to the ramp and a warm mobile home.
Don’t let cold, windy, cloudy weather keep you home this winter.