Tips for tournament fishermen

Published 12:51 am Sunday, January 17, 2010

The severe cold front last week really knocked the water temps down on the area lakes.

The few that braved the cold still caught fish but it was not easy. I never would have thought 45 degrees would feel so good. Surface water temperatures dropped from the mid 50’s to the mid to low 40’s and sent the bass and white perch into a non-feeding mode.

The only way to get the fish to open their mouth was to present your lure right in their face and leave it there. The early bite was off. The best time to fish right now is from around noon until dark.

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Bass tournament fishermen do not have the luxury of choosing the time we fish so we have to be very creative. There are many things you can do to catch bass and perch from frigid waters. The most common thing is to slow your lure presentation way down followed by making precise casts to the thickest, deepest cover you can find.

Something I am guilty of not doing but should, is scaling my lure and line size down. You can get more strikes and catch more fish using light line and small lures when water temperatures drop below 50 degrees.

I fished a bass tournament last weekend on Lake Bruin. At take-off the air temp was 17 degrees. A 4-mile boat ride at 75 mph put the wind chill factor somewhere well below zero. I was dressed right and did not get cold.

The only problem I had was ice in the rod guides and reels freezing up. By 10 a.m. all was well, the ice was melting and the fish (if you can call it this) turned on. I spent the first three hours of the morning fighting with frozen equipment and did not get a strike until I picked a Rat-L-Trap up and made a cast down a rock retainer wall.

A fat 3 pound fish hit the lure so hard you would have thought it was spring time. An hour later, around noon, I pitched a jig to some promising deep cover. The line twitched, I set the hook and an unhappy 4 1/2-pound bass tail walked across the cold surface of Lake Bruin.

A bent hook point cost me the next 3-pound strike and that bent hook cost me the win. 19 people fished that cold day. Ken Mahoney took first place with four bass weighing 10.23 pounds.

Robbie Buckles weighed the only five fish limit placing 2nd with 8.78 pounds. I placed 3rd and Buster Martinez won the big bass bucks with a nice fat 5.47 Lake Bruin lunker.

Next up is the Eddie’s Marine Open Singles on Lake Concordia Jan. 23 out of Lakeview Lodge. This event is open to all and you can enter on tournament morning.

The lake is off limits to contestants on Friday Jan. 22. The big bass on Concordia are loaded with eggs so we should see some heavy weights at the scales.

Eddie Roberts writes a weekly fishing column for The Democrat. He can be reached at