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Hello anglers and outdoor lovers. We are getting into the season where we might have temperatures below freezing. Here is a reminder to boaters……be sure and tilt your outboard and inboard engines down so water can run out of lower unit to prevent it from freezing. If left tilted up and not drained, the lower unit can freeze. When that happens it expands and can cause serious damage. Depending on how large the engine, repair costs can run from a few hundred all the way to $3,000 to $4,000. Other bad news is that insurance will not cover this since it is described as neglect. If you don’t fish in the winter you will not know anything has happened until you launch your rig next spring. It will operate in a normal fashion for a minute or two and then you will hear some horrible sounds of metal against metal. Probably not how you want to start out your first spring fishing or boating adventure.
LAKE CONDITIONS: Toledo’s lake level continues to recede and on Tuesday was at 167.04’ which is 5 feet below full pool. It’s possible this front may bring enough rain to raise the lake a bit but with all the area in a mini drought there will be minimal runoff as most of rain will soak in the dry ground. Water temperatures are falling and are running from 64-66 degrees with north Toledo slightly stained but that could change with recent rains. Mid lake is mostly clear and south Toledo is clear to very clear. SRA reports no generating at the dam.
FISHING REPORTS: If you are regular reader of this column you know that I truly love fishing during the colder months. There are several reasons with one being there is minimal boat traffic plus I just enjoy fishing the patterns that we use December through February. Sure I love the spring and most all other months but I have a passion for catching bass on deep structure. With such a mild fall season, water temperatures have been (and still are) above normal. However, this is starting to change as water temps have fallen 3-4 degrees this week and will continue to fall. Normally they should be in upper 50s by early December. We have weather forecasts that say we will have several nights in the 30s the next 7-10 days.
We continue to catch fish using several patterns both shallow and deep. Our shallow patterns include mid diving crankbaits including Berkley’s Digger and Pit Bull. In addition, we are using Norman’s Deep Little N (DLN) and their NXS. The DLN runs about 10-12 feet and the NXS about 12-14. Berkley’s Digger and Pit Bull run from 4 to 8 feet. We are fishing them on 10-12 lb test Trilene 100% Pro Grade fluorocarbon and working them on shallow ridges and primary and secondary points. The shallow patterns seem to work better pre-frontal. We also are using Texas rigs with Berkley Bottom Hopper and trick worms in depth of 2 to 15 feet. These work early, late and during cloudy conditions.
Our deep patterns include DD22s in shad patterns using both the silent as well as the rattling models. Other deep patterns include Carolina rigs, drop shot and spoons. We are fishing Carolina rigs with Berkley 10 inch Power Baits, Grass Pigs and Senkos in depths of 18 to 35 feet and drop shot and spoons about the same depth. The deeper I fish, the slower I fish. Best colors in Power Baits are plum and green pumpkin, Best colors in drop shot are Berkley Bottom Hoppers in red bug, shady watermelon candy and green pumpkin. The neat thing about a Bottom Hopper is that it tail floats so you can “dead stick”it leaving it still and the tail will slowly float up looking very natural and giving the bass something different to look at. I have caught numerous bass using this presentation.
There are a few nice crappie being caught in brush piles in 18-26 feet but most are moving out to deeper winter areas along the river and major creeks. I caught some with spoons in 34 feet. All eyes are on The Chicken Coop and two things need to happen for it to light up. The water temps need to fall to lower 50s/upper 40s and the water at The Coop needs to remain clear to moderately clear. If we get lots of rain and the river there gets muddy then it won’t happen. However, if we get cold weather and little rain then “hold your ice chest.” Yellow bass are more active the past couple of weeks as they are holding along major creek channels and are hitting tail spinners and spoons.
Joe Joslin is a syndicated writer and published by numerous websites, newspapers and magazines. Serves as guide on Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn and is a TPWD licensed guide since 1998. Joejoslinoutdoors@yahoo.com, 337-463-3848/409-565-1288 & website www.joejoslinoutdoors.com