January woes

Tough month of fishing at Toledo Bend

I’ve gone out on a limb enough over the last half of this year, discussing possible successful bass fishing patterns the way water and weather conditions were shaping up for each month here at Toledo Bend.

It’s safe to say as of the last week of November that, with Indian Summer days the norm and the occasional cold front but nothing major, bass aren’t where I thought they would be with average water temperatures consistently in the middle 60s.

They should be shallow, easy pickin’s for the plastic frog bite and other patterns normally associated with catching bass in less than 10-foot depths.

But the fish just haven’t responded to water conditions more like spring than late fall and early winter. I’m flabbergasted with the way the year turned out, I tell ya.

I expect the average water temperature to dip 15 or so degrees into the 50s this month, which is borderline in terms of catching bass shallow.

As a result, the best bet for January will be to target depths at least 20- to 22-feet and fish mostly with drop-shot rigs, Carolina-rigged soft plastics, square-billed crankbaits, tailspinners such as Rinky Dinks, jigging spoons, jig-n-soft plastics and even jerkbaits.

There are sure to be some freezing-cold mornings, with a warm-up during the midday hours and some milder temperatures a few days after each cold front — providing they don’t come too close together.

Whenever it warms up, there’s the possibility of an isolated shallow bite somewhere.

Regardless, on warmer days, sexy shad-colored square-billed crankbaits, golden bream-colored ChatterBaits and ½-ounce chrome/blue or chrome/black Rat-L-Traps could be the meal tickets because shad still will be the top forage for bass — and shad are thick at the mouths of creeks around the lake, particularly on the lower end of the lake.

Overall, anglers who go out for bass this month should prepare to encounter one of the toughest months of bassin’ on this great lake.

Ah, February. I can’t wait to get into February.

But the key factor this month will be just how cold it gets. It’s wintertime bass fishing, so adjust accordingly.

I’m figuring you can’t go wrong any time with a drop shot. It was working for me and others in late November, and it should be even more effective this month.

Use a june bug Senko on the drop-shot rig. That’s my No. 1 choice, followed by a Carolina-rigged soft plastic and then a square-billed crankbait.

If you want to try a jig, tie on a ½-ounce black/blue or Okeechobee-colored model.

Looking back at this year, it was a good one for me. My boat accounted for three 10-pound bass, something to be proud of, and I got to enjoy the return of the schooling bass bonanza like we haven’t seen in many years.

For five to six weeks starting in mid-July, schools of 3- to 6-pound bass came up, smashing anything and everything they could get their mouths on and staying up for long periods.

A real delight for me and whomever was in my boat at the time.

Crappie fishing has been fair, at best.

Seasoned anglers have been getting 20 to 25 crappie a day fishing around the pilings of the Lanan bridge and Pendleton Bridge, as well as still picking some off the sunken brush piles.

Unless there is a major weather change that socks us with arctic cold fronts in late December or January and drops average water temperature below 50 degrees to put the shad and crappie in the river channel, most crappie fishermen will be counting on the spring months for more consistent catches and higher numbers of fish.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year and catches plenty of bass, bream, crappie, catfish — heck, whatever you’re angling for — at Toledo Bend in 2017. It ought to be another good one.

For up-to-the-minute information on bass fishing Toledo Bend, go to johndeanjrfishing.com.

If you want to learn more about fishing for bass here before winter sets in, or plan ahead for a trip during February through April, come fishing with me. I have been guiding for years on Toledo Bend. Call 936-404-2688.

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About John Dean 75 Articles
John Dean has been guiding on Toledo Bend most of his life. If you’d like to join him on a trip, give him a call at (936) 404-2688.

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