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Monday, May 22, 2017
Southwest Louisiana ,

Joslin: Time to switch from guns to rods

Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 10:07 AM

By Joe Joslin / American Press

Hello, anglers.

Most hunting seasons are over and numerous outdoor lovers are turning their efforts to fishing.

The winter weather has not been too bad but we still have several cold fronts to work through before spring arrives. However, boat traffic did increase on both Toledo and Sam Rayburn last week with bass tournament season kicking in.

If you are not planning to fish until the climate warms some more, you might want to plug in your battery charger to keep boat batteries completely charged, make sure your fuel tanks are topped off as this helps to keep condensation and moisture out of fuel systems. Also, check out boat compartments to make sure moisture has not gotten in and caused mildew damage to expensive life vests and rain gear.

These reminders can help to make your first fishing trip of the season a happier one.

Lake conditions

Water temperatures are running from 51-55 degrees with the lake level at just under 170 feet with both generators running as of Tuesday.

North Toledo is heavily stained, midlake is slightly stained and south Toledo is clear-to-very clear. All major feeder creeks are heavily stained-to-muddy with the water conditions in the creeks getting better as you get closer to the main lake.

It is amazing how good the water conditions are on a majority of the lake given how much rainfall we have experienced the past two weeks.

Bass reports

We are fishing several patterns these days, including both shallow and deep areas from as shallow as 4 feet and as deep as 40 or more. That can make things interesting when trying to pattern January bass and knowing how to rig rods for a day of fishing, which may include basically the entire water column.

However, it is a challenge that I enjoy trying to stay on task as bass move from winter to spring patterns.

Last week we had times when we were locked in with plenty of action and other times when we had to work hard to catch a bass. It is the time of year when a lifetime big bass can show up on the next cast, so be prepared with rod, reel, hook and line setup with proper drag, sharp hooks, fresh line and Palomar knots.

On our shallow patterns, from 2-15 feet, we worked Stanley 3/8-ounce double willow spinnerbaits over the grass as well as letting them fall on the outside edge of hydrilla in 8-15 feet depending on submerged grass conditions.

We also worked Rat-L-Traps in similar fashion on the same type grass structure. Plus, we are working Traps on points that may or may not have grass, but those with grass are much more productive.

We are also working points with jerkbaits with some success using light line (10-pound Berkley Trilene 100 percent fluorocarbon) and working them very slowly.

The wacky worm and shaky head are also helping us on outside edge of grass using 5-inch Senkos and 6.25-inch Berkley Havoc Bottom Hoppers on wacky rig and Bottom Hoppers and Bottom Hopper Jr. on shaky head jigs (1/16 and 1/8 ounce). We work these very slowly.

The deeper bite is still happening with jigging spoons and drop-shot with 1/2- and 3/4-ounce hammered jigging spoons, plus we are using Berkley Havocs Bottom Hopper Jrs. on all of our drop-shot rigs. With these we are working depths of 20-to-40-plus feet.

Crappie and yellow bass

Crappie guide Ernie Cole reported catching 48 crappie on a morning trip to The Chicken Coop this past weekend. They were fishing shiners in 32-37 feet just off the river bed.

Several other recent good reports also came from The Coop with water conditions there a concern as conditions have gone from clear to slightly stained but not yet muddy.

If it becomes heavily stained, the shad and crappie will scatter, but if it remains stable the fish will continue to bite.

The yellow bass continue to be caught on the edge of main creeks and river using spoons and tail spinners with some of them large females. Three-quarter to 1 pound are large fish for yellow bass.

• • •

Joe Joslin is a syndicated outdoor columnist, tournament angler and pro guide on Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn. His column appears Thursdays. Contact him at 463-3848 or or visit

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