DAYTON, Tenn. - Most people look at the thermometer this time of year and think "My best bet is to go duck hunting." Everyone who knows me knows I'll go hunting any day of the year, but this time of year, I have one eye on the weather, and one eye on the water temperature on Lake Chickamauga.
Why? Because I'll catch some of the biggest fish of the year right now, in the dead of winter.
Pick your windows
First things first: You want to play it smart. You don’t want to be out when it's miserable. We don't get a freeze-over down here in Tennessee, but just like most places in the country, it gets cold enough that you have to pick your windows.
And what am I looking for? Simple: I want to catch that water temperature on the upswing. I like to have water that's 45 degrees, but it's just not always that warm in January.
You really have to take advantage of those windows where the water is simply in the process of warming up. Anytime we get a wind out of the south for a couple of days or a day or two of sunshine, that water will warm up a couple of degrees, and you find a window where you'll catch some really big fish.
Leaning on the FlatMaster
My cold-water baits start with the Livingston FLATMASTER, which is a flat-sided bait with a long bill. That bait was designed for these wintertime/cold-water conditions: It's a 6- to 10-foot diver with a nice, tight wiggle that really catches fish in the winter.
And I can tell you without a doubt, this is a time where Electronic Baitfish Sounds™ (EBS) is a big plus. These fish don't want to move to a fast-moving bait in cold water, so you're not burning that FlatMaster. You're just slow-cranking it and letting that EBS Shad™ sound work.
Work that bait SLOW, especially if the water is a little stained. Let that EBS™ call them to you.
Pay attention to the weather, choose your days, and throw the right bait, you might just catch a winter giant.