Hello, Anglers. Cold weather down south, huh? There were at least two days last week that there were either none or only one or two other boat trailers parked at the Texas SRA south launch. I witnessed almost no locals fishing last week as they have an option as to when they fish. If the weather is miserable they can wait until the conditions get more comfortable. We did cancel one day last week, I believe it was Thursday, when north winds were from 25 to 30 mph and the chill factor was about the same. Still, we were able to get in several days of fishing and were able to catch fish. I had clients from as far away as Arkansas last week and was glad we were able to get them on the lake and into some fish. The last of this week looks slightly warmer.
LAKE CONDITIONS: The lake level early this week was at 168.23 with no generating scheduled but I expect there will be one unit running from 5 to 8 hours on some week days. Water temps are in low 60s with north Toledo slightly stained, mid lake is mostly clear with some off colored conditions in back of major creeks and south Toledo is clear. An added bonus is the bald eagle population on south Toledo is booming and it has become common to see 8-10 eagles each day and even an occasional golden eagle.
FISHING REPORTS/BASS: Last week we continued to catch fish on several different patterns depending on weather conditions. One producer for some time now is the no-nonsense Texas rig worked in depths of 14 to 24 feet. Since the water temperatures have fallen to 58-60 degrees we are using a flat tail worm and not a swimming tail. When cold temperatures arrive, I seem to have better luck with a straight-tailed worm such as that on Berkley's Bottom Hopper and Zoom's Trick Worm. We are worming these in deep grass from 12 to 25 feet and 18-22 feet seem to be our most targeted depths with our Texas rig. However, we have found some groups of fish in the 14 to 16 feet. Another hint is that when you catch a bass, slow down and work the area closely.
Another change from what we have been doing the last several weeks is to work a deep diving crankbait (Norman's DD22) on deep points and ridges. Our best results for this pattern is to use deep cranking early mornings as well as on cloudy days. Also, the crankbait bite has been better on days when the barometric pressure is either steady or falling which usually is 2-3 days following a cold front or a day or so before the next front. These conditions seem to make the bass suspend which sets them up for the crankbait pattern. My rig for deep cranking is the awesome new, re-designed Revo Winch baitcast reel which is specifically crafted for deep cranking. This reel takes so much of the work out of deep cranking. The reel ratio is 5.4:1 which is the standard for cranking and weighs a mire 6 ounces.
I pair the Revo Winch with a 7' 2" Fenwick medium action/fast tip and use either 10 or 12 lb. test
Berkley Trilene pro Grade 100% Fluorocarbon line. Top colors for DD22s include fire tiger for dark conditions and sexy shad during bright conditions. I also use combo blue/chartreuse both early and bright conditions. The HD versions of Norman's baits are weighted where they cast straight and do not 'helicopter' when they fall greatly reducing the problem of the treble hooks getting tangled in the line. We are working our crankbaits medium slow with several pauses each cast.
We do continue to use a 1/4 and 3/8 oz. double willow Stanley Vibrashaft spinnerbait on grassy flats and points during the first hour of light as well as during overcast conditions. The best results normally occur when working the windy side of the area as the bass are normally more aggressive when there is a ripple or slight wave action present especially when water conditions are clear such as is the case on a huge portion of Toledo.
We continue to use spoons and drop shot techniques when conventional patterns fail to produce. We are fishing these in depths of 18 to 40' with drop shot rigs including a Bottom Hopper Jr.(4.57 inches) and spoons from 1/2 to 1 oz. sizes. I like 8 lb. test fluorocarbon on drop shot and 15-20 lb test Big Game mono or Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon with spoons.
CRAPPIE/WHITEBASS/YELLOW BASS: The crappie are definitely moving deeper and are holding close to major creeks and the river channel from 25 to 35 feet. Live shiners fished vertically are what most anglers are using. The better catches continue to be caught on baited brush piles. They are also catching yellow bass and white bass while crappie fishing. We are also catching a few yellows and whites on jigging spoons.
AUTHOR INFO: Joe Joslin is a syndicated outdoor columnist, tournament angler and pro guide on Toledo and Sam Rayburn. www.joejoslinoutdoors.com., email@example.com and 337-463-3848