I ain't much on torture. Moresomever if it involves me being tortured. That is why I have never been one of those winter anglers who would bear any weather just to go fishing. I have endured a day or so of it being so cold the line kept freezing in the rod guides and the 'baccy juice froze in midair. Can’t say I cared for it much.
But those warming February days, the ones where it may get up to 65 or 70 and you get a burn on your nose, that is a different story. I have had me a bunch of that and not only enjoyed it, caught a lot of fish.
My favorite fishing method on those days is floating a creek or river. For one thing, the fish bite better early in the creeks and rivers than they do in the still frigid lakes. Besides, it is easy to get out and warm up.
My fave of all time use to be floating the Smith Fork Creek. We would launch under an old bridge outside of Temperance Hall and float down to the take out point about a half-mile above the confluence with the Caney Fork. That is just about a seven-hour float. Of course, now, with the new ramp at Gordonsville, you could float to the Caney, turn left and be at the ramp in no time with an outboard. Makes takeout easy.
Time was, on a warm, early spring day, you could have two stringers filled with smallmouth, Kentuckies, black perch and probably some trout. I haven’t done that in some time because even in great weather, it involves a lot of work and I am a bit old for all the heavy lifting.
If you catch the generation just right, one generator or less, you can also have a great float down the Caney for trout and maybe a walleye or three. It isn’t crowded this time of year and the fishing can be steady.
It can also be doggone cold for the first hour or so. Makes you want to stop and get out fishing the banks more often. Hip boots, chest waders or for sure knee-highs are almost a must. Small toe fire now and then, doesn’t hurt anything, either.
However, do not overlook the lakes. This time of year can be excellent crappie fishing and they may be shallow. On up in the morning, as the sun warms the water, fish will move up to feed. This is a great time of year for afternoon fishing. Maybe I can talk Jackie Taylor into going if we ever have another warm day. I aint about to shiver the rivets out of a boat seat.
This is also a good time to latch onto a big striper, too. This use to be the late Mickey Pope’s time of year for rockfish. I know several people who love to fish the inlet to the Gallatin Steam Plant on Old Hickory this time of year. The fish move into the warmer water. What they look for is water temperature in the inlet five or six degrees warmer than the channel. Bait such as a skipjack or shad can be deadly. I always liked a white hair jig with along pork trailer.
This is also the prime time to start working on the smaller waters, too. Ponds warm up faster than big water and so the fish feed sooner. I love a warm sunny day on lake or pond of less than 50-acres. You can have a super day and catch some big fish, too.
As for lure selection, you have to tune that to the fish and the water. However, general rule of thumb is to use something you can work slowly. A jig or plastic worm is usually a good place to start. I tend to lean toward larger jerkbaits on lakes and smaller jerkbaits on streams. Of course, on streams, you have to have some sort of inline spinner tied on at all times.
Wherever you are going and no matter what you are fishing for, if you are on the water, wear a lifejacket. It does not take long for hypothermia to set in with cold water and cold air combined. So, fish safely and send me a picture if you catch one.
Contact John L. Sloan -- email@example.com