When the weather starts getting colder and water temperatures drop, the first thing I do when I put my boat in the water is look at my Garmin 7612 to find where the bait is and what the topography looks like. A lot of times in this cold weather, fish will come out of the creeks onto the main body of water and suspend, so you will want to concentrate on fishing stuff that is vertical, fishing baits that work vertically, like a jig and spoon, something that will work up and down, or fishing a jig very slowly. Or if your depth finder tells you the bait is suspended, often the bass will be suspended, and you can catch them on a jerkbait or maybe a tight wobbling crankbait or a swim bait that doesn’t have a lot of action. It will be a little trial and error, but understanding what bait and bass do when the water is cold is key.
Probably the most important part of any flipping set up is the hook you choose to use. Personally, I like a straight shank hook. I think it gives me the best hook up ratio. It’s easy to rig, and the bait stays very straight. The hook I have recently started using is an Owner Jungle Hook (with zo-wire). This hook is extremely strong. Four times stronger than other hooks with the same size wire diameter. Having smaller wire, it penetrates the fishes mouth very easily. And I have found my hook up ratio increasing dramatically since using it. It has a great keeper, keeping the head of the bait up and is by far the best hook I have seen – period.
The sixth stop on the FLW Tour this year was a place I have never fished – the Upper Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wisconsin on pools 7, 8 and 9. What a cool fishery! Shallow water, current, wing dams, grass, flooded timber – the fishery has it all. The cool thing is that you can catch fish a number of different ways. The tournament was won by Brian Schmitt throwing a swim jig and second place was flipping flooded cover in back waters. I didn’t have my best tournament and finished 66th, but I’d love to have another crack at it another year. I look forward to our return trip.
The 2017 FLW Tour is about to kick off. To give you an idea about some of the great fisheries we will be at this year, here’s a quick preview. We start off at Lake Guntersville, AL, arguably one of the best five lakes in the country. The tournament kicks off this Thursday, February 2nd. Though the water temperatures will be cold the weights will be big.
Next up is Lake Travis, my home lake. Most people know Travis as a lake with a ton of fish, but not many good ones. The lake is two years removed from a severe drought, which put it more than fifty feet low. There is all kinds of bass-holding cover there now. It will fish as good as it ever has.
Then for our Florida stop in early March, we go to the Harris Chain. It will probably be around the spawn, and even though I’ve heard it will fish small, I’m excited about this one because I’ve never been there, and I love going to new places.
From Florida, we head to Cumberland Lake in Kentucky. The Tour has only stopped at this reservoir one time, and it, like Travis is just coming out of a huge drought. What I hear is that the fishing is awesome there. I’m looking forward to this one.
Next is our annual stop at Beaver Lake, mid to late April. Fishing has been much better at Beaver over the last few years. This tournament ought to be in or around the spawn and I think a lot of fish will be caught.
Then we go to the Mississippi River way north in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Everyone I know who has ever fished this place thinks it’s awesome. Both shallow small mouth and large mouth could win here. This is another lake I’ve never been to, so I’m really looking forward to it.
The last stop on the tour is the Potomac River, which is probably my very favorite tournament venue. Last time FLW fished there, I actually won the event. It’s a power fisherman’s dream there – where lots of different patterns will emerge, but any of them could win.
I’m extremely excited about the upcoming schedule – several places I’ve never fished and several proven fisheries that I’ve always enjoyed. It should be a great year.