This time of year it's easy to get caught up in fireworks, football on the tube and exchanging all those Xmas gifts. If you're not careful, you'll spend more time in January in the malls or with the TV remote in your hand, than you do out on the lake. Now I'll be the first to admit that some of the January days are much better adapted to cruising the fishing aisles than cruising Kickapoo Creek, but there are still some outstanding bass fishing opportunities available. When thinking about January bass fishing, remember one thing - Timing is Everything. Following are some quick tips on how to get the timing right this month.
Tip No. 1 Don't Fight Mother Nature. When it's 30º and sleeting outside, just put another log on the fire and grab those reels that have been needing cleaning since back in the summer. Replace those bad rod guides and those rusty hooks on your favorite crankbait. You can even do this at hunting camp at night and between hunts during the day. You don't want to have to take any of those precious spring days fixin' equipment or worse yet, you don't want to lose that fish of a lifetime in February just because the line that you put on last summer is so old and frayed that it won't hold up. And what about the boat? Now's a good time to change that lower unit grease, pull the props (outboard and trolling motor) and check for fishing line and the grease seals. Check the batteries and make sure they're full of water and fully charged. Check the hydraulic fluid in the trim and tilt unit and the hydraulic steering. Maybe it's time to replace those spark plugs. Or perhaps it's something a little more major that needs to be repaired in a shop. Now's the time. If you wait till spring, you may have to wait for weeks of good fishing weather to get your rig out of the shop. Another good thing to do on these kinds of days is to check out one of the boat shows. The biggest one of the entire Southwest will be at the new Reliant Complex on Jan. 3rd thru the 12th (Fri. thru Sun.). Come by and see me at the Lake Livingston Area Tourism Council booth or the Lakecaster booth (they're going to be side-by-side this year). If you can't find me there, look for me in the Cut Rate Tackle Booth. Also, I'll be giving a bass fishing seminar on "Spring Bass Fishing in East Texas." I'll give some tips on catching springtime bass in Lake Livingston, Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend. Check the seminar schedule in the Reliant Complex or the Houston Chronicle for date and time. Come by and visit, tell me what you think about my articles and let me know what you'd like me to cover in the future. I look forward to seeing you.
Tip #2 Pick Your Days. The very best days to catch a bass in December are going to be those warm days immediately preceding the arrival of the next cold front. All it takes to get the bass active in the back of those coves is one or two relatively warm days with some sunshine. Look in the back of those well protected coves that open to the south and west. These are least exposed to the cold north winds and will warm the quickest. Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits, sluggos and wacky worms will be the most productive baits.
Tip #3 Sleep Late, Stay Late. The easiest bass fishing in December is going to be on the afternoons of those 70º days after the water has had a chance to warm up. This can also work real well for a morning deer or squirrel hunt and an afternoon on the lake. This also forces many people to play hooky from work after lunch to take advantage some of this exceptional activity. Many times the fishing gets better as the day goes along and peaks at around 2 hours before dark. Rick Clunn was in second place after the first two days of the B.A.S.S. tournament on Lake Livingston in early November of '94. When the camera crew left him in the back of Penwaugh Slough at 11 am he had one fish. As the water warmed in the afternoon, so did the fishing. Clunn stayed put and slow rolled a shallow diving crankbait to fool enough bass bring in the biggest stringer of the whole tournament (18+ lbs) and win the tournament.
Tip #4 Be There At First Light. Now this may sound like a contradiction of tip #3 but, regardless of time of year and weather conditions, there is always going to be a flurry of feeding activity at daylight. On bad days it may only last 20 or 30 minutes. On good days, it may last 60 to 90 minutes. Mike Metzler won the B.A.S.S. tournament in early December of '97 on Rayburn and he caught every one of his bass in the first 20 minutes of each day. I was helping the Bassmaster's TV crew for that tournament and on the final competition day, the air temperature at daylight was 22º. Metzler was leading after the first day, but on the second day he was in the last flight and got to Veach Basin late and only caught 2 keepers before they shut down. On the last day, he was in the first flight, got to his spot early, and caught the biggest stringer of the whole tournament to nail down the win. So if you can't stay late or if the conditions aren't going to warm up during the day, then be at your best spot at first light and make those first few casts of the day count.
I sincerely hope that at least some of the information that I have provided was enlightening or maybe entertaining but most of all helpful and educational. If you would like some first hand instruction on black bass fishing on Lake Livingston or Sam Rayburn, I guide full time on both of these lakes and can be reached at (936) 563-5454 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you get a chance, check out my website at www.detnet.com/fairbanks and let me know what you think. Until next month, may God bless you and yours.
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