Whew! I think I survived.
The first full weekend of 2017 included a blizzard and/or ice storm warning, stampedes at the grocery store, and me splitting firewood at a record pace.
But now it’s over (the weekend, not the blizzard – it never showed up) and the folks who predict weather say it could hit 70-degrees by this coming weekend.
Can’t they make up their minds?
I need to stop watching the Weather Channel and stick to the Outdoor Channel; meteorologist Jim Cantore scares me more than fisherman Jimmy Houston’s latest hair style.
“All this craziness has the bass in a dither,” one fishing acquaintance told me. “They don’t know where to go or what to do.”
“Hmmm,” was my sagely response. That was the best I could offer without being considered a know-it-all.
The one good thing about being cold-blooded is that bass don’t have to adjust the thermostat with every weather change, God made it so the bass adjusts with every weather change.
That keeps things simple.
The majority of the spotted bass, and a considerable percentage of largemouth bass, have already staked out winter home sites and will probably stay put until the urge to spawn overcomes their thinking around the middle of February.
At that juncture they will begin to wander towards the shallows, looking for love and a nice place to build a nest and lay their eggs.
So my advice is to keep fishing the pockets and coves near deep water. Look for pockets that are a couple hundred yards long and have at least 70-feet of water where they intersect with the main channel.
The bass use the bottom of the pockets (or ditches, as some call them) as highways to move in and out as the bait (read: dinner) moves in and out.
If it really does hit 70-degrees this weekend expect the bait to go shallow along the sides of those pockets in a search for warmer water. Rocky banks facing into the sun will be the best places to find that warmer water and catch a fish…or possibly ten.
Since crawfish are prone to emerge from the rocks during such sort-term warm-ups, use a finesse jig. Usually the crawfish have a brown tint to them early in the year so cinnamon-pepper is my favorite color to use, and remember to move it slowly, very slowly, along the bottom.
Your second rod should be rigged with an icicle-colored finesse worm on a Shakey-head; it will imitate shallow baitfish.
Keep those two rods ready and you’ll have both forage species covered. Let the bass tell you which they prefer, but my guess is that they won’t care and will attack either.
A third rod should be ready at your feet with a jigging spoon or drop shot for any schools of bass you notice on your depth finder.
And, here is one more observation/suggestion, and the first time I have ever made it: two weeks ago when the weather was unseasonably mild, I witnessed some strong outbursts of top water activity in the afternoons.
Most of those fish were stripers driving bait to the surface (the abundance of insane, diving sea gulls will be you best clue for this activity) but according to fishing-friends some behemoth spotted bass are running with the stripers.
I haven’t been able to catch one yet, but if we get the promised warming trend at the end of this week I plan to be ready with a fourth rod and a bait I can cast a country mile, just in case the surface of Lake Lanier erupts.
It's a great time to be on the water. Enjoy. Be safe and wear your life vest.