The Toledo Bend Winter Bass-O-Holic

The American Heritage Dictionary defines an idiot as, “a mentally deficient person; having the intelligence in the lowest measurable range; an imbecile; a blockhead.” My wife’s definition is slightly different. She says an idiot is (1) a person who will actually go fishing when the cold frigid Arctic air is cutting across the water, (2) a person who will continue fishing when hands and toes have lost all of their feeling and snow covers the top of your head, and (3) a person that doesn’t have enough sense to give it up when conditions get so bad that the fishing line freezes in the rod guides. For the next couple of months my wife will continue to remind me that I have not one but all of the above-mentioned traits… so therefore I qualify as a Toledo Bend Winter Bass-O-Holic. Alt Jim BinnsActually I have to admit that my life has not been quite the same since discovering that some of the biggest bass can be caught during the colder months. Sitting in front of the TV all weekend just hasn’t turned me on since that cold winter morning a few years ago when I cast a jig-n-pig near a submerged creek channel, worked the bait s-l-o-w-l-y down into the dark slate-colored water. Suddenly I felt the “thump” of the strike, and then the violent reaction of a heavy largemouth bass when as I set the hook. That moment is still etched in my memory, but unfortunately it also marked me as an outcast. From that moment on people would mournfully look at me, shake their heads in sorrow, and offer condolences to my wife. I would be scorned by the public and find compassion only with those of my own kind. Forever I would be branded ……. a Toledo Bend Winter Bass-O-Holic. Toledo Bend Winter Bass-O-Holic’s are cold weather Rodney Dangerfield’s, and the brunt of many jokes. However, all of those giggles and snide remarks by the WRD’s (Warm Room Dwellers), mean little to me when I reach into the livewell and pull out a humongous big-mouth bass. Yes my friend, it’s times like these when being a Toledo Bend Winter Bass-O-Holic is all worthwhile. If you would like to join this elite group of brave souls who venture out onto cold waters in search of the wily bass you should be aware of the pitfalls involved. The following guidelines should help in making your introduction to this life a bit easier. Toledo Bend Winter Bass-O-Holic Guidelines – 1. 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. 2. Always walk down the ramp to check conditions before you attempt to launch your boat. There is nothing more embarrassing than to start backing down the ramp in extremely icy conditions and launch not only your boat, but also your towing vehicle. 3. Always go slow when the boat is under power. I know of one instance where the driver of the boat accidentally hit a wave wrong and drenched his fishing partners with icy water. He was then unceremoniously thrown into the frigid lake by the same people who just moments before he called friends. 4. Always check your thermos before offering fellow-fishermen a warm drink. I once lost all creditability when I poured cold chicken noodle soup into my companion’s cup. (It comes out in large offensive looking yellow globs). 5. Always wear boots… NOT tennis shoes. You cannot imagine the excruciating pain experienced if you accidentally drop a rod and reel on the end of your half-frozen toe. The agony will surpass even the ancient Chinese torture involving bamboo splints under the fingernails. 6. Always carry an extra 10 pair of gloves. Somehow when the first pair gets damp the extras are tough to find. And don’t plan on your fellow fishermen “friends” letting you use their gloves .. It just won’t happen. 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 wet out on the lake. 8. Always wear a life jacket. Most of you can’t even swim in the bathtub so what makes you think you can swim in 40-degree water? Remember .. you are not just wearing that life jacket for you, you are wearing it for your family. 9. Don’t fish topwater baits during the winter months … even if your neighbor is hammering the bass on poka-dot pattern jitterbugs. Fish big boy lures such as jig-n-pig, Carolina-rigs and spoons. Using those silly topwaters at this time of the year is not a “manly” thing to do and could give you a bad reputation. 10. Always select a fishing partner with about the same mental capabilities as yourself. For cold weather fishing Dumb and Dumber is a good partnership. Don’t fish with a wise guy that will keep griping and reminding you how cold it is … or even worse – how crummy the fishing might happen to be. Remember, misery loves company.. so pick out a sympathetic partner or one equally as stupid as you. I hope that I haven’t painted too bleak a picture because winter fishing also has some really good points such as – there are fewer water skier’s on the lake, mosquitoes are seldom a problem, and you can usually have your choice of fishing locations. So… put on all of that winter clothing, waddle out to your boat, and work that jig-n-pig down there in Mr. Bass’ lair. As it gets colder and colder just keep reminding yourself that you are having lot’s of fun. Who knows, after reading these tips and seeing how much fun you are having I would be willing to bet that your wife might plead with you to take her along on your next outing. Wouldn’t that be something! One final tip – Bring along a one burner stove, large skillet and a frozen pizza when you head to the lake. Should any of the bad things happen that I have mention above, or heaven forbid the fish get lockjaw .. here is the plan. Find a nice secluded cove out of the wind, heat up the pizza, and then thank the good Lord for the great day you are having on the water. Obviously it just doesn’t get any better than this! Good fishing

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