My Wife Says Winter Anglers Are Crazy!
I love this time of the year because most folks are either hunting or sitting behind the television set watching old re-runs of football games. The launching ramps are deserted and I finally have the entire lake to myself. So what if the wind is howling and the thermometer is hovering around the minus mark. To be a Texas/Louisiana “Winter Lunker Hunter” you have to be tough. And I guess it helps to be a bit mentally unbalanced.
People that will actually go fishing when the cold frigid Arctic air is cutting across the water are usually looked upon as weird but I assure you they are not. They simply have a great passion for their sport. It takes a different breed to go fishing when it’s so cold that your hands and toes lose all of their feeling, and conditions get so bad that the fishing line freezes to the rod guides and icicles are forming in the livewell. So why do it? Well it all boils down to a simple answer … Big Ol’ Lunker Bass.
There is absolutely nothing that compares with chunking a jig-n-pig near a submerged creek channel and then working the bait s-l-o-w-l-y down into the dark slate-colored water. Suddenly there’s the solid “thump” of a strike, you set the hook and then feel the violent reaction of a heavy largemouth bass. The powerful surge of the bass and then the monstrous roll of the fish at the surface makes your hands shake and your heart pound. And when you lift the lunker into your boat that moment is etched in your memory banks forever. My friend – This is what it’s all about!
But before you get all crazy and run out there looking for lunker bass there are a few guidelines that need to be covered that will make your transition to winter lunker hunting easier.
What To Do – And What Not To Do –
1. Dumb and Dumber is a good combination so use that as a guideline for selecting your fishing partner. Don’t get paired up with an angler that will keep griping and reminding you how cold it is, or even worse, how crummy the fishing might be. Remember, misery loves company so pick out a sympathetic partner or one equally as stupid as you.
2. Always check the local weather forecast. If it says winds 5- to 10 mph plan on a minimum of 15- to 20 mph. If it says rain plan on a monsoon, if they predict snow it will probably be the mother of all blizzards. You know the routine.
3. Watch for rogue waves. There is absolutely nothing more depressing than to look up and see a three foot cold, icy, frigid, wave coming over the front of the boat and heading your way. If you get caught in this situation at least turn the boat at an angle so that the wave hits your fishing partner and not you. And if you do drench your partner don’t say something stupid like “Boy this boat really takes the waves good .. Doesn’t it?” Anglers have been thrown out of the boat for much less.
4. Check the boat ramp out before you attempt to launch your boat. Few things are more embarrassing than to start backing down the ramp in extremely icy conditions and launch not only your boat, but also your towing vehicle with you in it.
5. Always wear boots… NOT tennis shoes. If you accidentally drop a rod and reel on the end of your half-frozen toe the pain will surpass anything you have ever experienced.
6. Always wear a life jacket. Why is this so difficult for anglers to do? Most of you sink like a rock in the bathtub so what makes you think you can swim like Tarzan in 40-degree water?
7. Always remember to put your drain-plug into the boat prior to launching. You would think that this one would need no explanation; however, some of you will obviously get a case of hypothermia trying to get the plug in while out on the water.
8. A complete change of clothing and at least 20 extra pair of gloves are a necessity. The extra clothes are needed for when you fall in the lake while putting your drain plug in. The extra gloves are needed when your first pair of gloves get damp and you can’t find another set. Don’t plan on your “friends” letting you use their gloves… It just won’t happen.
9. Macho baits are the key to building a winter fishing reputation. Don’t get caught using those wimpy drop-shots and other “finesse” type baits. Go for the gusto and build your reputation with baits such as the jig-n-pig, big crankbaits, jigging spoons or foot-long swimbaits. A macho image is everything in bass fishing!
10. Get lots of product decals and paste them all over your motor cover, boat and even your trailer. There is probably nothing more impressive than pulling into a busy launching area with decals like Wal-Mart, NASCAR Finalist, LSU and Viagra displayed.
11. One of my Louisiana angler friends has a boat with two livewells. He cooks up a pot of gumbo and then uses the extra livewell to carry the stuff. It works out great and there is nothing like a hot bowl of gumbo during a days fishing. Just be careful which livewell you put your fish in.
12. If you can sneak out your wives hair dryer it works great for warming up those plastic trailers you use on your jigs and making them more flexible. One angler I know even has a hair dryer duct taped to the inside of his pants leg and it warms everything from there up to his ears. Just don’t step down into the water when the hair dryer is plugged in.
13. One of my Texas friends gave me a pretty good tip to use for keeping the wind off your face when making a long boat run during very cold conditions. He simply takes a pair of underwear and pulls them over his head and has a couple of holes cut for his eyes. It’s cheap and works great. Just be sure to use clean underwear.
14. Nothing is more discouraging than to make a cast and have your favorite rod and reel slip out of your hands and disappear down in the briny depths. A simple fix for this is to always use your neighbors fishing equipment under these conditions.
15. And last but certainly not least … Always go to the bathroom before you put on two pair of long johns, one pair of pants, a jumpsuit, a snowmobile suit, and raingear. Trust me on this one… just do it.
Well there you are, a few tips be help you become the best winter lunker fisherman possible. Ignore all of those stupid comments your neighbors will make as you waddle out to your boat in all that clothing because there are lunkers to be caught! As it gets colder and colder and colder just keep reminding yourself that you are having lots of fun. In fact don’t act like you are having too much fun or your wife will probably want to tag along.
One Final Tip – Always carry a cell phone. Should any of the bad things happen that I have mention above you will still have a link to the world. And if the fishing REALLY sucks you can use the phone to call your local pizza place and have a pepperoni and cheese delivered to the dock. Winter fishing, big bass and pizza … Life doesn’t get much better than this!
Good Winter Fishing – JB