Fishing Toledo Bend in January usually means high water with muddy to stained conditions, strong currents, strong winds and cold water temperatures. This year we’ve received almost two and a half times the amount of rain we normally receive in December. We’ve also had numerous strong cold fronts dropping the temperatures below normal. The bass moved from their fall pattern into their winter pattern sooner than they would under normal conditions. Understanding what the fish do under these circumstances and formulating an appropriate pattern will help our chances of landing some bass. When the water temperature drops to the lower fifties and forties, look for the bait- fish and bass to move into deep water. The easiest way to locate the bass is to locate the bait- fish. Concentrate looking for balls of shad on your LCR in deep creeks, sloughs and along the river channel. When you locate the shad the bass are usually underneath the shad just off the bottom or suspended. If the bass are on the bottom, they will orient themselves close to some type of structure, brush- tops, lay-downs, stumps, ledges, drops or humps. A jig or jigging spoon fished vertically is most affective. If the bass are suspended a fluttering spoon or tail spinner cast out and counted down and retrieved with a pumping motion will trigger more strikes. Once the fish have moved into deep water, the strong northern fronts really don’t effect them as much as they do when the fish are in shallow water. Remember when fishing cold water, we need to down size our baits and fish extremely slow. Right now, we are concentrating along the deep creeks, sloughs and old river channel shelf and ledges. With the lake continuing to rise, the bass will move in or up with the rising water and we will work the deeper creeks. Toward the end of January and depending on the water temperature the larger bass will start staging off the deep water points and main lake ridges in anticipation of the spawn. Jigs, soft plastics, spinner baits, crank baits, and stick baits can all be productive depending on the water temperature and lake level. If you head to the lake this time of year make sure you dress accordingly. Keep an extra set of insulated overalls handy just in case you or your fishing buddy is unfortunate enough to accidentally go swimming.
Water Temp: 40s