End of November proved to be cold

Published 12:01 am Sunday, December 1, 2013

That was the coldest Thanksgiving holiday week I have ever witnessed in this area.

While the duck and deer hunters had a great week for hunting, it was not so good on the fishermen and ladies. Some areas received 4 to 5 inches of cold rain. Lake water levels rose quickly. The waters were low, so the rain was needed.

The landlocked lakes are back to a somewhat normal level now, and the watershed lakes are a bit high. Surface water temperatures were already several degrees below normal before this front.

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I launched a boat on Lake Concordia Friday morning before sunrise. The sonar unit flashed a cold 45.9-degree water temperature. That is another record for me. I have never fished water in the 40-degree range in late November or even December in this area.

I would guess it has been seven of eight years since we had water this cold. The coldest water we get is usually in late January and early February, not November. This year just keeps on getting stranger as far as the area lakes and fishing.

Three nights in a row behind this cold front lowered the air temp below freezing. Right now, as I write, it is Saturday morning and a couple of hours before daylight. The air temperature is currently a chilly 31 degrees. We are headed to the Black River/Horseshoe Lake Complex to compete in a local bass club tournament. It is safe to predict the early morning bite will probably be a bit on the tough side — not impossible, but tough.

The forecast predicted highs in the 60s for Saturday. I have fished during much worse conditions, as it could be sleeting or snowing. It will take the fresh water a few more days to settle, and, if the forecast holds up, we should see warmer water by this coming weekend.

This is my favorite time of year to fish. The fish activity usually depends on which side of the weekly cold fronts you fish. Of course, the best time to go fishing is when you can, but you can improve your chances of having a good day in cold water by fishing before and during a cold front. Once the clouds fade away and the barometric pressure goes up, game fish will not feed as often or as long.

I think today would have been a good day for deep-water fishing if the water clarity is not stained to muddy. The deep bite will be tough in cold muddy water, and the sun will help the shallow bite. Many people will head toward the wind-protected areas that receive the most sunshine. That is usually on the northeast side of whatever lake you are fishing.

There are so many variables to consider, it would take a set of books to try to explain cold-water fishing. On some days, you may catch the fish in 2 to 3 feet of water, only to have them disappear the next day. Deep water fish are different. Once some of the bass and perch move to deep water, they usually stay put unless we get a lot of warm weather.

The only drawback is water clarity. For a good deep-water bite, you need clear water. The white perch fishermen and ladies will now begin to catch some good fish from heavy water. Perch will move deep and bunch up, but white perch are a strange species to pursue. The perch will bite like crazy and shut down as soon as you think you have everything figured out. The bass will have an extremely narrow strike zone, meaning you will have to make repeated casts and use an ultra-slow retrieve to the same area before moving on. You can fish right past some big bass and never know it if you don’t slow down.

This is an interesting year, and I am very curious to see what this weekend’s bite will be like.