Saturday 15 May 2021
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Winter on the ‘Water

As temperatures plummet, water and air, venturing out to paddle and fish requires a little more mental preparation. To be safe, skip the cotton clothing and go for wool, water proof and weather proof outerwear and footwear. Exercise caution when entering, standing and exiting your kayak. These are the most likely times to do the unintended, not to mention undignified “polar bear plunge”. Water temperatures are extremely critical now. And the danger of hypothermia looms large. The Coast Guard advertises the 50/50/50 rule. In water that’s 50 degrees, if you are immersed for 50 minutes you have a 50 percent survival chance. The proper outfitting and a healthy dose of common is half the battle.
Your tackle box can shrink slightly also. The Plano #3600 boxes that are standard with the Jackson Big Rig are ideal for the available kayak dedicated space and shuffling seasonal lures as the weather and water temperatures fluctuate. . Gone are warm water baits like surface lures. Summer lures are replaced by smaller crankbaits, suspending jerkbaits, single bladed spinners and a healthy supply of jigs. Jan-1-Winter-crappie-III-resizedCold water species like trout, catfish and walleye are less affected but still require some adjustment. While scorned by many tournament organizers, live bait is also a possibility for frigid water fish. As a rule of thumb I use the largest live bait I can find any time of the year and the smallest ( a relative term) artificial bait for sheer numbers of fish. Jan-1-Winter-minnow-plugWith natural bait, the large version is most appealing to the senses of any fish and offers no clue to being “bogus”. It is still my belief for truly BIG fish I toss a big bait. Each species has a slowdown in digestion in cold water; this in almost every case dictates a slower retrieve presentation.
Because cold water is clearer due to lack of bacteria, a drop in line size might also be beneficial, this making it less visible to the fish. School of fish regardless of species will hover close to pods of baitfish, their primary source of nutrition. Be on the watch for a different weather pattern. Two or three days of bright sun, a south wind and a favorable moon phase can bring fish in close and make them more active in feeding in what emerges as a brief warm up / feeding spree. Minnow imitating plugs in silver, silver black back and shad patterns are all a like choice for bass and bass fishermen. Open face spinning reels strapped to a six foot medium action rod and six pound test line have proven to be a great combination for a winter wake up call for bass of all species and sizes. Small tube jigs on light (1/16th ounce leadheads are great for crappie and other panfish. Slow down, fish secondary cover and be aware of subtle strikes. Fishing with a partner in winter is advisable but minimally let someone know your destination and like time to be off the water. Caution in the kayak, a little patience and you might have a great winter story to tell and warm the hearts of your fellow paddlers.Jan-1-Winter-clothing-II