GIFT CERTIFICATES: If you have not gotten that "hard to gift" hubby, son or friend a Christmas gift, it is not too late to purchase one of our Joe Joslin Outdoors gift certificates. We can send it as an email attachment or even get it there shipped. Call at 337-463-3848 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hello, Anglers. Many of you know we were going through some tough times last Christmas season and spent the holidays at MD Anderson in Houston. God and great doctors at MDA (in that order) have gotten me back strong and healthy. I am so excited about the coming holidays and am blessed to be able to be active again. Many of you have prayed for me and I am so grateful as we have been going full throttle for the last 6-8 months. I wish you and your family a meaningful, peaceful and blessed Christmas season. I will fish a few days with family over the holidays and will resume guiding December 30th.
I can hardly wait till my new Skeeter 21 FX comes in. I truly have the best sponsors in the fishing industry. Here they are: Skeeter FX/FXi/ZX/Yamaha SHO, Minn-kota, Humminbird, Pure Fishing (Berkley,Abu Garcia,Pflueger Fenwick), Stanley/Hale, Bill Lewis (Rat-L-Trap), Bill Norman(DD22 etc) and TTI Blakemore (Daiichi and XPoint). I am blessed!!
LAKE CONDITIONS: The lake level at mid week was at 168.25 feet with both generators shut down. Water temps have been running from upper 50s to lower 60s. North Toledo is stained, mid lake is mostly clear and south Toledo is clear. The buoy systems are fair to good with most markers in place. A few are missing but much better than last year. Of course, we still have some tough weather ahead before next spring. With the lake down nearly 4 feet it is wise to stay close to the buoys.
FISHING REPORTS/BASS: Our deeper patterns are back on the top shelf as the cold front pushed bait and bass to deeper structure. One of the most challenging things to do in winter months is to stay on the bass consistently. Cold fronts and high barometric pressure usually go hand in hand and are a strong influence on bass movement. In addition, these same two factors influence bait fish (threadfin and gizzard shad) as well and push them deeper. Of course, the bass always follow the food so staying on top of bait migration (movement) is one of the main factors of staying on the fish.
After fishing for decades, I still find this process a challenge because the puzzle is not always easy to solve. After working on this challenge for a lot of years, I would never say that I have it figured out by any stretch of the imagination. However, having fished countless days in the winter season under all kinds of weather situations, there are factors that seem to become "somewhat" consistent which does help to 'pattern' the fish. To simplify the process, the colder the air temperature, the deeper and slower I fish. What I am fishing and writing about is the deep, clear water of south Toledo and Sam Rayburn. If your fishery has stained/muddy water conditions then the movement of the fish in severe cold conditions would be different. Personally, some of the toughest fishing conditions that I have ever encountered are cold, muddy water. Numerous fellow anglers share that same belief but that is another story altogether for another time.
Currently, we are working the outside edges of grass the first and last hours of the day. In the middle of the day with bright conditions we are using drop shot rigs and jigging spoons. If we have a warm. cloudy day we will stay longer on a grass pattern but if it is bright/sunny we usually move to deeper structure with deep crankbaits, drop shot and spoons.
On our crankbait pattern, I am dropping down to 10 lb Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon to get me another foot or so of depth on my DD22s which can be crucial to catching lethargic, cold water bass. They will normally not chase a bait very far this time of year so you want that bait to be in their face looking for any kind of a bite....even a reaction bite. I have had days where reaction strikes were the only kind I could get.
You know they are reaction bites when you catch the fish and the bait is on the side of the mouth, side of head or even on the upper part of the body. You know they are feeding when they have most of the bait in their mouth. Reaction bites are common on spoons as well. I caught a large crappie recently where the spoon was hooked in the middle of the crappie's back where the fish had slapped the spoon and got hooked by the treble hook. Hey, a reaction bite is o.k. by me, especially ugh day.
Our DD22s are in shad patterns and we are using 7'2" Fenwick HMG medium action rods with Revo's Winch baitcast. Our drop shot tools include a Bottom Hopper Jr (4.75 inches), #1 XPoint widegap hook, 8 inch Berkley fluorocarbon with Revo Spinning reel and 7' Veritas medium action spinning rod. For outside edge of grass we are using our regular tools of Texas rigged Bottom Hopper and Trick Worms, 15 or 17 lb Fluorocarbon with medium heavy rods. We are working our TX-igged soft plastics slow to very slow.
CRAPPIE/YELLOW BASS: The crappie are picking up with a few getting caught in deeper water along the river with some even caught at The Chicken Coop. I heard multiple reports that things are close at The Coop but we will need another cold front or two to move water temps in low 50s. There were several reports of 20-30 nice crappie being caught at The Coop during the past 5-7 days. Most in about 33 feet of water on live shiners, according to Holly Park Mariana.
Yellow bass are also being caught by crappie anglers on live shiners as well as on jigging spoons off main feeder creeks as well as along the Sabine River bed.
AUTHOR INFO: Joe Joslin is a syndicated outdoor columnist, tournament angler and pro guide on Toledo and Sam Rayburn. 337-463-3848 or email@example.com and website at http://www.joejoslinoutdoors.com/