Written By Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service
Internet Website www.fishingalabama.com
It does not matter what lake in Alabama you select for your next fishing adventure, especially during the normally, colder winter months of January and February, you still have to be prepared. Adept bass anglers need to always keep in mind, (like during any season), you always have to consider the conditions you will be facing as well.
Conditions, such as the weather, which always plays a huge roll in “weather” or not you will successfully fool a few bass into biting your tempting little offerings! And that’s what it’s really all about in the long run. Right? Catching bass, lots of em’ and hopefully fooling a few of those big, wintertime bass as well!
So, as always (besides facing the current conditions or considering the weather man’s predictions for the upcoming weeks ahead), bass anglers should always take a good look at the conditions and previous weather, what took place a week or two ago. All to increase your chances of catching bass, on your next preplanned wintertime fishing trip!
Why is this so important, you may ask? Why not just load up the boat and go fishing, (hopefully on a nice, sunny day), and see what lies ahead, without any kind of preparation? Because, like often pondered, you do still want to catch some bass, don’t you? That’s why!
After being a professional, — bass fishing only — freshwater fishing guide for over 50 years (yes, that is over fifty, cold winter season’s !) exploring and guiding all Alabama lakes, I still agree with most sane anglers, winter is the toughest time of the entire year for fooling any bass species, with any consistency.
As owner of Reeds Guide Service Website www.fishingalabama.com “Alabama’s oldest, professional freshwater — bass fishing only — guide service”, I have always prepared myself, and those hundreds of clients, for any conditions that may arise during the winter months.
I’ve learned a lot about fishing for largemouth bass, spotted bass and smallmouth bass during the past, often brutal cold, fifty plus years of winter months in Alabama. Growing up in the small town of Wylam located only five miles from downtown Birmingham, I learned how to fish nearby, renting a small boat in my teenage years.
Bankhead lake on the Warrior River system, both Logan Martin Lake and Lay lake on the Coosa River system, then Guntersville lake on the Tennessee River system, Alabama’s largest, man made impoundment. Lake Eufaula on the Chattahoochee River System located on the Alabama / Georgia state line, were all my first lakes I intently learned to fish, as the years slowly rolled by.
Then, I branched out to north and south Alabama, to eventually fish, guide (and even doing well in bass tournaments,) as I learned more and more about each and every lake in the state. Including, knowing what to look for and what to avoid, things that may hamper or help my chances of fooling just a few bass! Including, when to just stay home!
But only during those rare occasions, like when I’m confronted with very stained to muddy water conditions, have I seen these adverse conditions really produce any amount of decent bass, even in a full day’s time. There are exceptions after fishing for so many years. But still, it’s the worst conditions an angler can face, year round, that is with any hope of catching a few bass. So avoid cold, muddy water at all costs! But, if you do have to fish these very muddy-to-heavy stained water conditions…there is still hope!
If the entire lake (its headwaters, major incoming feeder creeks and rivers, and even the normally clear, mid-to-lower lake region, are all just downright muddy everywhere, then you really have two choices. Stay home until conditions improve, or swing things more in your favor, by doing one or more of the following suggestions;
BACKS OF CREEKS
Fish the backs of both small, incoming streams and major feeder creeks. These may be the first places that the water clears up. The previously, incoming heavy winter rains (or winter snow run off!) and the often, very evident incoming current eventually does slow down and the creek’s water clarity will quickly improve.
In these creeks / river headwaters, as the water becomes clearer when it’s filtered out each day, even after many days of heavy rain, these wintertime bass can often stack up! Often feeding for days and usually unmolested, by those would-be anglers in their warm homes, resting on the couch!
Not always the most ideal place to find largemouth bass during the cold, winter months, but ideal places for locating both spotted bass and smallmouth bass, often in schools, feeding as they fatten up for the cold, winter months ahead. Usually located along current edges or around wood and rock cover.
Big, largemouth bass can be found in these feeder creeks and incoming rivers, both during and after heavy, winter rains, with some searching, applied around cover like weeds, wood cover and rocks. Persistent bass anglers may fool the biggest bass of their lifetime!
To many anglers surprise they will soon see some decent sized bass in these places, even during winter when bass are typically labeled as deep water fish, there are always some bass shallow.
The off-colored water and increased current does not bother these bass during the winter months, like you would think it does! Especially when it comes to them effortlessly gorging for days at a time, on an assortment of incoming meals!
Slowing moving, bottom hugging lures like worms and jig combos are good for slow bass. Including lures like jerk baits, shallow running crank baits, bladed jigs and spinnerbaits, for more active bass, and these are always good “search lures” in these creek backwaters. If a school of bass are located, work em’ hard and stay on them, possibly even returning later if they quit biting. This can help you fool them all over again, if they quit biting the first time and they may be the only bass you discover in a days time!
Weeds – Aquatic weeds will harbor some of the lake’s biggest, largemouth bass during the winter season and these weeds can get really muddy, especially if located in and around major feeder creeks. Even the upper lake to mid lake region may show weeds in very muddy water clarity after several days of heavy rain. But when these big largemouth bass refuse to leave their green, winter homes, they can still be caught!
Avoid the swift, current weed edge during these cold, muddy water conditions, when looking for these shallow muddy water bass around these aquatic weeds. Get the boat in close to the weeds and look for clearer water. Then slowly flip little holes and lanes often found within these green and clearing weeds. Use lures like heavy jig and trailer combos, big creature baits, oversized worms, beaver type plastics, big crayfish imitations, over sized plastic chunks, swim baits or big lizards.
These weeds filter out muddy water fast and they can clear up, either in close within inches of the weeds or it can be clearer within a foot of the weeds, especially green weeds with higher oxygen content. The bass seem to know it and the meals they pursue as well depend on these weeds for many reasons during these cold, muddy water conditions. Like the security of thick aquatic weeds, weeds are often very green and high in oxygen content, and thick, aquatic weeds provide easy, escape routes to deeper water!
During these heavy, winter rains always look for the clearest water available. Usually the mid-to-lower lake region, away from any major feeder creeks, is a good place to start. Creek flats and main lake flats can heat up fast during warm nights and sunny, daytime conditions following these heavy rains. Mid day to late during the day on sunny evenings, can show much more shallow and active bass in higher water temperatures, that can rise as much as five to ten degrees in a day’s time!
Also look for any baitfish schools or signs of feeding bass in clearing water clarity situations, right after these heavy, winter rains and muddy water conditions.
Conditions…that should never keep you at home on the couch during the winter season in Alabama!
Thanks, be safe and good fishin’ this winter season! Always call on Reeds Guide Service (205) 663-1504…first! See us on face book too!