My first trip was to Falls Lake, NC. A friend of mine, Jun, who is in my department at Duke has been wanting to go fishing. So, he decided to give kayak fishing a try and we headed out in very cold temperatures. At launch, the air temp was 25 degrees and the wind was blowing pretty hard. We met up with two other guys and set out in search of fish. I knew the river channel would be the place to target, but the lake was down 6-8 feet and the wind made it tough to set-up where I wanted. So I moved to a spot I had found on my electronics last year. I was seeing large schools of bait and some feeding activity, so we started fishing there. A short time later, I hooked up with a solid 14" bass and Jun landed one right around 15". After catching a few large shad, we called it a short day as water was freezing everywhere - including my waders, jacket, rods, reels, kayak deck, and fingers. For me, this day was a case of 1) using your electronics - which I feel is very important in the winter & 2) knowing when to quit - which sometimes you just gotta do for your own safety and sanity.
My second trip was with my friend Gary (froggy waters) Ribet. Gary wanted to hit a small lake in Orange County. I promised to not reveal the name, but it is a public lake. We went out in search of anything that was willing to bite. We checked out the river channel, deep drops, rock banks, and just about any place would could think of, but we couldn't find good schools of fish. The only pattern I noticed on my electronics was that the fish were very spread out chasing schools of shad. We managed to catch 5-6 largemouths, 3-4 crappie, a yellow perch, and a bream between us, but all were fairly small. It was one of those days that makes you realize just how different winter patterns are and how important it is to be patient in the winter. Even though we were fishing areas that hold lots of fish during the majority of the year, the winter pattern had pushed fish elsewhere, most likely to the upper end of the lake where a river flows in (a 5+ mile paddle that we didn't make) and to very deep water (50+ feet).
On a late January afternoon, even an 8 inch spotted bass can make you smile!
My third trip was with Mary May. We decided to hit a local river and catch some spotted bass. It took a little while, but we eventually figured them out and caught quite a few fish using spinnerbaits and crankbaits. However, even in a smaller ecosystem, such as a river, bass want to find warmer, deeper, slower water. One side of the river looked amazing with slow pools, logs, and rock ledges, but we couldn't buy a bite there. The other side, which looked good, but to a lesser degree, had fish in every small pool. So sometimes, just a degree or two warmer water can be a key. Oh, and my Jackson Coosa continued to impress!
A little stand-up Coosa fishing
I hope others are out there enjoying the winter fishing, whether it be on open water down south or through the ice up north! Until next time, tight lines!