Fishing in late winter

Published 2:44 pm Tuesday, February 8, 2011

We finished January with rain and started this month with rain.

What causes rain is a front moving through the area and with that the temperature drops to again bring us some cold weather. It is winter time, so we have to contend with the cold, though this winter has been colder than most in a long time, maybe forever.

Probably sometime in July, we may wish that some of this cold air would visit Decatur County, but it won’t. Legal sucker sides have also gone by the wayside as the netting season ended on the last day of January. Our season is three months, November, December and January.

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The biggest thing in fishing will probably be crappie fishing for this month. Toward the end of the month, bass fishing will be getting a little better. If February is warm, the bass fishing will get good, but if most of the month is a continuation of what we have had it will not be great and will be sometime in March before the average fisherman gets his line broken.

Now if you want to practice your casting skills, you can hit the grassbeds and try to catch a jackfish or two. They like cold water more than bass do and are willing to strike a bright-colored lure or maybe a spinnerbait. Regardless of what you choose to use in fishing for those jackfish, carry several of them with you. The sharp teeth that a jackfish has will surely cut your line. If you catch several of them on the same bait, consider yourself lucky. You are going to lose some lures fishing for this fish so get that in your mind. It is going to happen.

Crappie have been biting a little for a while now. They prefer cooler water than the panfish we fish for so much, but it has been a little cold for them and a lot too cold for most fishermen.

Even if it doesn’t get really warm this month we should have enough warmth to help their eggs mature and some of them begin to bed.

Minnows will be the best bait for the papermouths, though jigs will sometimes do a good job. I have seen times when they preferred one over the other, but on Lake Seminole most of the crappie are caught on minnows. Putting a minnow on the jig sometimes works, but if the fish are in a mood where they want the minnow still or moving very little, the minnow and jig combination won’t get you enough to eat.

If you can find a submerged treetop that is holding a school of crappie, you can sit in that one spot and usually get your limit of crappie, which is 30 per person. One spot we found right after the lake was backed up was a grape arbor. It didn’t have any leaves, but the vines were still fairly thick and was certainly enough to attract and hold tons of crappie.

For a year or longer you could get a nice catch by stopping at that spot. I know it was a grape vine because sometimes when you got your hook hung you would bring up a piece of grape vine. I was young and for all I know the fish were making some grape wine and staying drunk. Probably not, as there would have been more folks fishing there than just us.

As it gets some warmer, the crappie will move toward the banks and deposit their eggs on the limbs and stumps they find in that area. Then the female goes on her way. Other fish may come along and eat some of the eggs, but enough usually survive to keep the species moving into the future. Nature takes care of herself. She will see that plenty of fish are hatched to keep things as they should be.