Toledo's Winter Patterns
Hello, Anglers. Local lakes and fisheries are stabilizing somewhat as far as influx of fresh water with many fisheries seeing water levels actually falling. Boat traffic has slowed substantially the past weeks with a few local die-hards plus tournament anglers making up the bulk of boaters. During the week it has been the norm to fish all day and only encounter 5 to 10 boaters.
Obviously, we are in the heart of hunting season with many outdoor lovers holding a gun or bow instead of a fishing rod. For me personally, it is one of my favorite times of the year as you can fish and if no one is talking in the boat, it is perfectly quiet. The silence is only interrupted by geese honking over-head or a blue herring squawking at you as he flies away because you invaded his favorite fishing point. Occasionally I will get to make a short fishing trip alone which I enjoy. However, I am too much of a people person to do the solo trips often but I do enjoy the change. What a blessing to be able to spend time outdoors.
LAKE CONDITIONS: Toledo's lake level at midweek stands at 170.55 feet msl (mean sea level) and for the first time in 6-7 weeks the generators are shut down. However, that will likely change fairly soon as the lake rose 3-4 inches in the past 24 hours plus the area experienced moderate rainfall. North Toledo is stained but clearing, mid lake is slightly stained and south Toledo is clear with main creeks still very stained in the upper portions. Surface temps are running from 51 to 53 degrees.
FISHING REPORTS/BASS: Anglers are using multiple patterns to catch bass and also from a wide variety of depths. Falling water temperatures have made a huge difference on patterns with anglers having to slow presentations to get bit. The jig-n-pig bite was a big factor in area tournaments this past week as was deep diving Bill Norman DD22 crankbaits. Check out Tournament News in another part of column for more info.
If you have patience, you can also catch a few fish on a wacky rigged Berkley 5 inch Heavy Weight Sinkworm as well as a 5 inch Senko wished weightless on the outside edge of the grass. This pattern has been most effective at dawn/dusk as well as during overcast conditions in areas of the lake with clear water and hydrilla growing out on points and on humps and ridges. Depths of 12 to 16 feet has been the best for this pattern. I am using a 3/0 Daiichi Round Bend Worm Hook with 10 lb test Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon
or Trilene Big Game low-vis green line.
For a rod I am using a 7 ft Fenwick HMX Spinning with a Pflueger Supreme XT spinning reel. I love to fish this rig and during the past several years have caught some of my biggest bass ever using this set up and pattern. It is light tackle but not extra light and with a correct drag setting can land some beautiful bass on days when a bite is hard to get. Also, another advantage is that I am holding the rod and reeling with different hands than when I use conventional baitcast rigs. This allows me to not over-work hands and joints and when you fish as many hours as I do each week such a change is very helpful. Plus I enjoy spinning tackle and on very clear fisheries like Toledo and Rayburn there are situations where it is very successful.
Another pattern which produces in December is the use of crankbaits. Bass will suspend a lot in December as well as hold just off the edge of deeper grass lines and the crankbait works well for both of those areas that hold fish. If you want your crankbait to run more shallow you can use a heavier line whereas the opposite is true with lighter line helping lure to dig deeper. Newer line technology has also produced fluorocarbon which sinks and will help you crankbait to dive even deeper. Line choice alone could make a difference of 2 to 4 feet in how deep you crankbait dives which is a major factor. In winter time fishing the bass will, in most situations, not move very far to take a bait so you have to get it to where he is holding. Take it to'em!
CRANKBAIT TOOL TIME: There are times when I want my crankbait to run at mid-depths and yet I wanted to use the big profile DD22 deep diver for quality bites. To make it run more shallow I would use regular mono line and opt for a heavy 15, 15 or 20 pound test. To make it run at max depths, I use 10 and 12 pound mono and Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon. For years I used 12 lb test Trilene Big Game only but more and more I am opting for fluorocarbon. It sinks which helps crankbait to dive, it takes a lot of abuse, has minimal stretch and is transparent which are all huge pluses.
I use a 7 ft Fenwick HMG medium action rod with Abu Garcia's Revo Winch (made for crankin') reel which has a 5.4:1 ratio retrieve. With this setup and 10 or 12 lb line I can cast a DD22 a country mile which is vital in deep water crankin'. We also continue to use jigging spoons and drop shot patterns in depths of 25 to 45 feet. There's a bunch of bait fish in the upper one-half of major creeks all over the lake and good populations of fish are with them.
CRAPPIE/YELLOW BASS: " I have fished 3 days catching 20 in 3 hrs one morning along the main Toro Creek channel over tops 20-26' with minnows" reports south Toledo guide, Butch Perrodin. He also mentions the main lake spots are not as consistant. Like many crappie anglers he is waiting for them to bunch up in deep water but states "That hasn't happened yet". He suggests that if it (surface temps) drops a bit more then maybe they will bunch. We are all hoping the Chicken Coop bite happens after two years of being a no show.
AUTHOR INFO: Joe Joslin is a syndicated outdoor columnist, tournament angler and pro guide on Toledo and Sam Rayburn. Contact him at 337-463-3848 or email@example.com. and WEBSITE www.joejoslinoutdoors.com.
About The Author: Captain Joe Joslin
Company: joe joslin outdoors
Area Reporting: South Toledo Bend
Bio: Joe Joslin is a syndicated outdoor writer and writes for several Louisiana newspapers and numerous magazines including Texas Game and Fish, Louisiana Game and Fish, CenLa Sportsman, Louisiana Sportsman and LakeCaster. Joe has been fishing Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn for 25+ years and is a frequent tournament angler. Joe has been a full time pro guide on Toledo Bend/Sam Rayburn since 1998.Joe Joslin Outdoors Fishing Guide Service Wholesome atmosphere * Safety minded * Latest equipment, featuring 21i Class Skeeter with 300 hp Yamaha HPDI * Tackle supplied upon request * References available upon request * Available Year-Round. E-Mail Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org