Joe Joslin

Hello, Anglers. Happy New Year! Many readers may ask, "do people actually fish in December and January?" 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 fishing fanatics. It may surprise you that a few of us actually prefer winter fishing over summer. Some of the reasons being less boating/fishing pressure, absence of 95-100 degree weather and we catch quality fish. Also, our winters in Louisiana and central/southeast Texas are normally very mild in comparison to some of our northern states.

LAKE CONDITIONS: The lake level at mid-week is 171.28 feet which is up nearly a foot from recent rains. North Toledo is heavily stained with mid-lake stained and south Toledo mostly clear on main lake with some off-colored conditions up major feeder creeks. Water temps are running in mid and low 50s which is the coldest water we have had this season.

CURRENT BASS 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 mostly 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 Toledo and Rayburn to catch numerous 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 or #6 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. I have mentioned this army vet in my columns on other occasions. 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 a strong advocate of catch and release. I have also had good luck this past month on a 3/4 ounce hammered nickle spoon by Klassic Lures which is a Louisiana company.

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 45 feet. I have caught them as deep as 55 feet but 30-40 feet is where I target most of the time.


As far as the prime 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 but different presentations are needed in warmer months. For this report let's consider cold water patterns only. 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'. After a cold front has past and weather starts to moderate after a few days, the jigging spoon is normally not as effective. When this happens, bass will often come up off t. he bottom and suspend making them much more difficult to catch. So, I like a bright, high pressure day


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 100% Fluorocarbon line in 15 or 17 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. I also use Trilene Big Game (lo-vis green) line in 15 and the new 17 lb test.

The rod selection in spooning is vitally important and my spoon is hanging on Fenwick's HMG 7 foot baitcast with medium 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 and I know of no reel on the market which spins more freely when engaged. There you have the basics in spooning. Another 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? If you want a hands-on experience on spoon fishing then give us a call. I have shown numerous anglers this method over the years.

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 and WEBSITE

Fish Species: l.m. bass, yellow bass
Bait Used:
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Method Used:
Water Depth: 10 to 45
Water Temperature: 53
Wind Direction:
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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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