Joe Joslin

FISHING IN DECEMBER: Many readers may ask, "do people actually fish in December?" What some are actually thinking is "are there people crazy enough to fish in the winter time?" Yep! Count me in as one of those "touched" fishing fanatics. It may surprise a bunch of folks that I actually prefer winter angling over summer. Some of the reasons being less boating/fishing pressure, absence of 95-100 degree weather and we usually catch bigger fish. Also, our winters in Louisiana and central/southeast Texas are normally very mild in comparison to some of our northern states.

WINTER FISHING PATTERNS: As water temperatures fall into the 50s, I fish a lot of crankbaits, slow-rolling spinnerbaits as well as jigs. In addition, on the mid and southern portions of Toledo, the water is normally very clear which lends itself beautifully to a lot of vertical presentations with jigging spoons and drop shot rigs. I have been a fan of jigging spoons for 20-25 years and have used them on south Toledo to catch hundreds of bass in cold weather.

For most situations, I use a custom made spoon which is about 5/8 of an ounce and attach a #4 Daiichi's Death Trap treble hook. This is a very high carbon hook and is super sharp which is vital in jigging a spoon. Retired Army Col. Ralph Moffett, who lives on south Toledo, is a recent convert to Daiichi's Death Trap hooks. Col. Moffett is the best spoon fisherman I have ever encountered and there is no way of knowing the numbers of bass he has taken on this method. Moffett, who designs and makes his own spoons, is also a strong advocate of catch and release.

A jigging spoon is nothing but a slab of lead with a treble hook attached. However, when this is lowered into the depths of a deep, clear lake and bounced off the bottom, it can become a very effective tool for catching fish.

I catch most of my spoon fish in depths of 25 to 40 feet. I have caught them as deep as 55 feet but 33-38 feet is where I fish most of the them.

WHEN TO SPOON FEED: As far as time of the year, I like from mid- November through January as prime months but a spoon will catch bass 12 months out of the year using different presentations in warmer months. Let's consider only cold water patterns in this report. Ideal jigging spoon days are usually just the opposite of traditional bass patterns. Best spoon days are often just behind a cold front with bright skies and high barometric pressure. This puts lots of bait fish (shad) and bass on the bottom.

If bass are not holding on the bottom, they are very difficult to 'pattern' with a spoon. After a cold front has past and weather starts to moderate, the jigging spoon is normally not as effective. When this happens, bass will often come up off the bottom and suspend making them much more difficult to catch.

So, I like a bright, high pressure day. I lower spoon to the bottom, engage the reel, left the spoon off the bottom from 1 to 3 feet and let it flutter back down. 75 percent or more of strikes will come as spoon falls and the strike may be only a slight tick. Set the hook with a swoop upward of the rod to take care of any slack.

If you connect with the fish, keep pressure on the bass and continue to work the fish but do not rush the fish as you do not have a lot of line between you and the bass when vertical jigging. If the bass is large, bringing the fish in 'green' (full of fight)is a common mistake for novice spoon anglers as the fish will pull off near the boat. That is another reason for using a medium action rod while fishing a jigging spoon.

JIGGING SPOON TOOL TIME: I have personally tried numerous rod/reel/line combinations for deep water spooning and feel my current set-up is the most effective I have used to date. It includes Berkley's new Fluorocarbon line in 15 pound test which is transparent and has great sensitivity to feel subtle strikes common to cold water spooning. It also possesses super knot strength and is very resistant to abrasions. The rod selection in spooning is vitally important and my spoon is hanging on Fenwick's Techna AV 7 foot baitcast with medium fast action.

This rod helps me to feel everything my spoon is doing and has quick response at hook set with plenty of backbone to fight a big fish. It also has enough flex to keep a big bass from pulling off at the boat. My experience is that a heavy action rod is not ideal for spoon fishing as it has no give/flex when a big fish makes a run with very little line out. As far as reels, I am using a Abu Garcia Revo STX.

The quality of this reel leaves little to be said. One thing that one does in vertical jigging is engage the reel and allow the spoon to free-fall to the bottom. I know of no reel on the market which spins more freely when engaged. There you have the basics in spooning. A final thing about vertical jigging a spoon, you catch numerous species of fish including largemouth bass, spotted bass, yellow bass, white bass, striper, crappie, bream as well as an occasional big catfish. Sounds like a buffet, huh?

To check out more of our fishing information as well as current reports on Toledo and Sam Rayburn go to Merry Christmas and God Bless.

AUTHOR INFO: Joe Joslin is a syndicated columnist, tournament angler and pro guide on Toledo and Sam Rayburn. His sponsors include Skeeter Performance Boats, Yamaha Outboards, Lake Charles Toyota, Red River Marine/Alexandria, LA, Berkley, Fenwick, Abu Garcia, Daiichi, Jay's Carpet One and Stanley Jigs Inc. Contact him at 337-463-3848 or and WEBSITE

Fish Species: Bass
Bait Used:
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Water Depth: 4 to 35
Water Temperature: 60
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Joe Joslin

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

337 463 3848
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