Cold Water Fishing

Article by: Ronnie Garrison

Some of the ways that have worked for me in the past should work for you this winter. I learned to fish a jig and pig one Thanksgiving at Clark's Hill. I had read a lot about this bait but did not have enough faith in it to fish it for very long.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving I put up all my rods but one and used a jig and pig all day. About two o'clock I was regretting that decision when I pulled up to a brush pile. I caught three bass over two pounds on consecutive casts. A little later, in another brush pile I caught a 6 3/4 pound bass on the bait. I have had faith in it every since.

I also learned to jig under the boat for bass during the winter. The second or third year I spent Christmas at the lake, I kept seeing something on my depth finder just off the bottom on this sandbar near my trailer. I tried everything I knew but could not get them to hit. I finally started casting a Little George. Didn't get a strike until I started jigging it up and down right under the boat.

I caught over thirty bass off that sandbar the next three days. I had to go home for Christmas Day and the next day, when I got back to the lake, the fish were gone. I have caught them that way since them, just not quite as many.

Hybrids are called Palmetto Mules in South Carolina because they pull like a mule. They also like cold weather. I don't like them because too many people come to the lake during the winter for them and I don't have it to myself any more. I do like to catch them. The first time I got into them I saw something on my depth finder and dropped a little George to the bottom. A four pound hybrid hit and almost took the rod away from me.

I caught several dozen from 4 to 7 pounds that Christmas. They were everywhere. You can watch the gulls and find the hybrids that way too. I have done that many times and have learned a trick. While the fish are feeding, the gulls will be flying and you can catch the hybrids on just about anything. When the gulls light on the water, the feeding spree is over. But the hybrids are still there. You can drop a tiny lure like a crappie jig to them and they will hit it when they won't hit anything else.

They are wild on ultra light tackle. I caught a six pounder on a ultra light rod using six pound line. Took over 15 minutes to get it to the boat. My hand was cramping from holding the rod by the time I netted it. Sometimes a striper will hit with the school of hybrids. One year I was catching three and four pound hybrids. I was using a spoon on a heavy casting rod and 17 pound line. The hybrids would hit under the boat in about 15 feet of water and pull like crazy, fighting back and forth. None ever pulled drag.

Suddenly, something hit and took off, running away from the boat. I stripped off about 50 feet of line before I turned it, and it made two more runs like that. It was a ten pound striper. Last Christmas I hooked something on that same outfit. It took off and didn't stop. I felt it go through a tree that was almost 100 yards from me. I pulled against the tree until the line broke.

I have no idea how big it was but the lake record striper at Clark's Hill is 55 pounds! I hope to catch a big striper some day. Live bait is a good way to catch them and I plan to buy some blueback herring and set up for them. I guess I will just have to put up with the little six to eight pound hybrids that hit.