Last Modified: Wednesday, March 06, 2013 10:13 AM
The four-letter word for the past two weeks has been “wind.” Thank God for a strong trolling motor and a big boat. Winds more than 25 mph are forecast for the first part of the week, with the last of the week looking slightly better. We’ll see how that works out.
That’s the bad side of the fishing scene, but on a more positive twist is that the fish are biting and no matter how bad the conditions, we continue to catch fish. However, it does take much effort and adjustments to find fish in a fishable area while also figuring out what they will hit between all the weather changes.
If you wanna sleep good at night, fish with me three days straight on a wind-blown monster-sized lake. It is a challenge that we enjoy (most of the time) and don’t expect to get much sympathy from you guys when we get to fish all week.
On a side note, I have seen some very interesting things happening in God’s creation such as a red fox bedded down in a small, exposed grass patch on the lake side of the dam. I’m not sure if the fox was trying to ambush some nearby geese or what. Plus, we also witnessed a bass on a bed in 55-degree water when normally the water temp gets to 60 before bass move to beds. Ideal spawning temps are said to be from 65-68 for largemouth bass in this part of the country.
It is a blast and a huge blessing to be outside during the changing of the seasons.
The lake was up slightly during the early portion of the week, but some of that was due to strong north winds for several days, which will pile the water up on the extreme southern portions of the lake and dam area, which is where the published levels are taken. The level Monday was 168.89 feet, but strong southern winds will push some of that back north.
Water temps are running 55-59 degrees with stained conditions on north Toledo, slightly stained at midlake and clear down south. There’s plenty of stained conditions in the major feeder creeks and a strong migration of fish are heading up the creeks and ditches all over the lake.
BASS: Our biggest bass last week, 8.2 pounds, came on a Stanley Vibrashaft hand-painted series spinnerbait with sexy shad colored skirt. The bass hit last Friday about 8 a.m. in 6 feet of water but close to a very deep drop off.
We have had three or four patterns that we are using depending on the weather and water conditions and time of day. When the winds allowed, we caught bass on weightless or light-weighted soft plastics, Rat-L-Traps, Stanley spinnerbaits and suspending jerkbaits. For the most part, we have been fishing less than 12 feet for the past week but oftentimes our boat has been in much deeper water.
Behind the many cold fronts we still have been fishing shallow water but have been targeting shallow areas that are close to deeper ledges. Also, the more intense the cold front, the slower we have fished. We have used the jerkbait more preferring a Smithwick Rouge (suspending model) as well as Rick Clunn’s series. My jerkbait rig included 10- and 12- pound test Berkley Trilene 100 percent fluorocarbon, a medium-action 7-foot Veritas (Abu Garcia) rod and Revo SX baitcast reel.
This set up allows the jerkbait to dive to 3-5 feet, plus permits long casts and the medium-action rod allows for plenty of lure action. Finally, this setup gives plenty of backbone to fight a big bass and enough flex to give slightly when a big bass makes a final run close to the boat, which is where a lot of bass are lost on a jerkbait as we witnessed while watching the recent Bass Master’s Classic.
Another advantage of jerkbaits is that they can be fished in windy conditions. Fish the jerkbait slowly. As mentioned earlier we are also using Traps and spinnerbaits in lowlight conditions as well as windy conditions. We are using shad-colored skirts on the spinnerbaits and our favorite Trap colors are Cherry Bomb and Toledo Gold in the mornings and chrome-and-blue in bright conditions. We are using 17-pound test Berkley Trilene fluorocarbon on spinnerbaits and Traps.
On our weightless soft plastics we are using Gulp! Sinking Minnow, Kandi Stik and Senkos and are rigging these three ways: Texas weightless, wacky and split-shot. If you want to use a little bit of weight with the Texas weightless or wacky simply insert a small paneling nail or use a Hook Angel. Google hookangel.com for that info.
We continue to use a drop-shot, football jig (Stanley Bug Eye) and Carolina rig on the deeper ridges as there are still bass in water 18-30 feet.
CRAPPIE/WHITE AND YELLOW BASS: The winds have prevented crappie guides from getting on the water with any regularity, but the white perch are moving shallow and, if weather forecasts are on track, then late this week will become productive again.
Road Runners, 1/16-ounce jigs and live shiners under a cork is the pattern fished in 3-6 feet. Target the mouths of ditches in drains the back part of creeks for the early crappie that are moving up.
There is another very productive pattern on the south end of the lake with deep clear water where anglers are fishing off deep water docks and deep points with shiners after dark with crappie lights. Look for water from 20-35 feet and fish suspended about 14 feet.
White bass are running on the north end of the lake and yellow bass are still being caught in 25-40 feet near creek and river channels.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.joejoslinoutdoors.com