Yellow Cotton Bay still delivers the goods, but it’s just a shadow of its former self.
No, you won’t find the lunker largemouth you’ve dreamed about under your Christmas tree, but you just may find it at Caney Lake, which is known for its double-digit bass.
Since duck season and deer season are both wide open right now, not nearly as many people will be fishing Caney as at other times of the year. This month the water will be cooling down, and the big bass will be feeding aggressively to put on fat for the winter and for the upcoming spawn. In December, don’t expect to get a lot of bites at Caney, but do anticipate fishing for that bass of a lifetime.
December is my electronics month, because you’ll need electronics to find the bass, which will be on flats or holding off of steep, sharp drops, and to locate the shad. I’ll be searching for vertical cover — drops where the bottom falls from either 2 to 8 feet or possibly 16 to 30 feet — and prefer a straight up-and-down bottom break rather than a gradual drop-off.
My Lowrance depth finder scans down and sideways to give me a better picture of the bottom, the structure that’s on the bottom and the shad between the surface and the bottom.
Since Caney’s been around a while, most of the standing timber has rotted away. However, to replace that standing timber, many anglers have created underwater brushpiles on the top edges of these drop-offs, although sometimes the brushpiles have slid down to the bottoms of the drop-offs.
When you pinpoint a steep drop, a large school of shad and a brushpile all in the same location, the bass most often will be there. After a cold front during times of high barometric pressure, those bass may be holding in the brushtops at the bottoms of the sharp drop-offs.
My first two choices of lures to fish are the 3/4-ounce Football Head jig and the Hack Attack jig with a Strike King Rage Craw on the back end of the jig. Early in the morning or on cloudy day, you just can’t beat black/blue jigs. I’ll also put a black/blue Rage Craw or a sapphire-blue Rage Craw on the backs of these jigs.
On sunny days, I like a green-pumpkin jig with a green-pumpkin Rage Craw. I fish the Football Head jigs on the drop-offs with no cover. But on a drop-off with a brushpile either at the top or the bottom of the drop, I prefer to fish the Hack Attack jig. Because of its head design, the Hack Attack jig will come through the cover easier than the Football Head jig. The Hack Attack jig has a really big hook in it, which will enable you to put a lot of pressure on big Caney Lake bass to get them out of the brush.
I’ll be fishing at least 20- to 25-pound-test fluorocarbon or braided line with the Hack Attack jig. The weather determines whether I start fishing on the top or the bottom of the drop-off. However, I still have to read my electronics, look for balls of bait and see how and where the bass are positioned in relation to the bait and the drop-off. Although I don’t necessarily have to see the bass on my electronics, I do want to see either brush or bait by that drop-off before I start fishing.
When the baitfish are holding high — 5 or 6 feet in the water — above or out in front of a drop-off, then I’ll choose a Strike King 3/4- or 1-ounce spinnerbait that’s heavy enough to drop and swim below that bait. I also fish the 1-ounce Bottom Dweller as a back-up bait when I can’t get the bass holding in deep brush to bite the Hack Attack jig. I’ll run the Bottom Dweller through the top limbs of that brush to try and pull the bass out of the cover and get them to eat the spinnerbait. The depth of the water dictates the size of the spinnerbait for this tactic.
On cloudy days, I like a chartreuse or white spinnerbait; when the day’s sunny, I prefer to use the sexy shad color. I’ll be fishing the spinnerbait on 25-pound-test line and using a 5.1 gear-ratio reel, like the Quantum PT Tour Grade, to keep the spinnerbait down in the fish’s strike zone. When I’m fishing very deep, I’ll cast the spinnerbait out and let it fall on a tight line.
As I spot balls of bait 5 or 6 feet away from the drop-off, I’ll move my boat into the shallow water, cast from the shallow water to the deep water, let the spinnerbait go to the bottom and retrieve the spinnerbait up the ledge toward shallow water. You’ll have to experiment with a couple of techniques and lures when you locate ledges with bass on them holding deep in December. I crash the spinnerbait into that cover easier coming from the deep water, up to the shallow side of the ledge. I also know bass rarely will spot a spinnerbait moving from deep water to shallow water, and I can cover every inch of that ledge from a different direction by coming from the shallow water to the deep water, a technique fishermen seldom use.
I’ll use this same tactic to cover all the brush and the entire ledge when I’m fishing a jig by sitting 1 or 2 feet from the drop-off in shallow water, making short pitches, letting that jig fall to the bottom of the ledge, pulling the jig into the cover from that direction and then working it through the brush and up the side of the drop-off.
On warm days, when the bass move more shallow, I’ll cast onto the flats near the drop-offs, either with a 3/4-ounce Bottom Dweller or a 3/4-ounce or 1-ounce Red Eye Shad. On cloudy days, I like the sexy color Red Eye Shad. On sunny days, I prefer the chrome sexy shad color or the clear (transparent) sexy shad, especially if the water’s clear. However, some wind on the water or clouds in the sky make the Red Eye Shad very effective in December.
I’ll fish Caney Lake to catch that one 8- to 10-pound bass for my Christmas present. I don’t mind taking the time to work one ledge from several different directions, while fishing numerous baits to see what works.
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