Fishing With Kenny: Keeping December Fishing Simple
article by KENNY COVINGTON
Louisiana’s weather patterns leave a lot to be desired. One week it will be brutally cold, another it will be mild and almost spring like. I can remember a Christmas when the temperatures were down in the teens, but I also remember a Christmas when we were wearing shorts with temperatures climbing into the 80’s. As confusing as it is to us humans, imagine what Mother Nature’s creatures go through.
I have always made it a habit to keep an eye on the weather systems as far in advance of a tournament day as possible. While I will admit I have an open and honest skepticism of our weather “experts,” I do find it helpful to monitor and prepare for what might could be. Contrary to popular belief, most winter weather systems do not the negative impact on a bass than anglers have longed believed.
To understand the concept of this month’s Bayou Life article, you need to understand wherever a bass decides to spend the cooler/colder months, is where they will stay until the upcoming spring when they begin preparing for the spawning ritual. A bass may move from a flat to a ditch or a creek channel if the cold front is severe enough to create a severe drop in water temperatures, but for the most part they will stay in the same areas this time of year.
A common question I have heard is, “Well, if the water is cold and getting colder, don’t bass move to the deeper sections of the lake?” To answer this question, yes, some bass do move to the deeper areas of your favorite body of water, however a lot of fish will stay in water less then six foot deep. I have probably won more tournaments fishing shallow water in December than I have fishing ten foot or deeper.
Here are the things I consider when preparing for a December fishing trip or tournament. First I want to see what the previous week’s weather consisted of. Did it rain and how much? What about daytime temperatures? Were the nights especially cold? With this information, now I can turn my attention to the upcoming days forecast and what kinds of weather to expect.
At this point in time, I shift my focus to the lake I am going to. What type of lake am I going to; is it a bayou or river system, a natural cypress tree lake or a manmade impoundment. What kind of water clarity is the lake noted for? If I am going to Caney or Claiborne, I know I will be fishing mostly a clear water environment; however if I am going to a Mississippi River oxbow like Bruin or Lake Providence, I will probably have off colored water to deal with. It is this combination of weather and the fishery itself that allows me to determine what my best opportunities are to be successful.
One thing I have forgotten to mention that I have found especially important to consider is the personality of the lake. Some lakes, regardless of the weather and water temperature, the fish will be caught in less than five feet of water. All the Mississippi River oxbows have this tendency. In clear water lakes, even in colder water situations, if there is cloud cover, manageable wind or rain, fish can be caught shallow. On Darbonne Lake, there is always a certain number of fish that can be caught fishing the creek channels. Each lake has its own niche, and in the month of December, it is important to remember that.
So, now that we have discussed the many variables of December bass fishing, what are some things to look for that will make for a productive day on the water? My number one rule in bass fishing has always been, “if a lake has grass in it, you better be fishing it” and it’s always the first place I begin fishing. Our lakes have many types of grass with an abundance of coontail moss, hydrilla, milfoil, and lily pads to name a few. If I had to choose my favorite and most consistent grass producer, it would be coontail.
If I am fishing a lake with a large abundance of Cypress trees, I must be a bit more particular about the ones I choose to fish. A single foot of difference in water depth from one tree to the next can mean everything to your success or failure. Bigger trees, clumps of trees, or anything out of the ordinary can hold fish. One thing to remember about fishing Cypress trees; never overlook how shallow the fish can be even in colder months of the year.
December is a month where fishing boat docks comes into play. Not all boat docks are the same and on lake where there is an abundance of them, it can be an intimidating process trying to find the right ones to fish. A good rule of thumb when seeking out productive docks, remember “the older, more broke down a dock looks, the better its fish potential.” I have found this to be true no matter what body of water I am fishing.
One final note about our December fishing adventure is do not get too hung up on lure choices. No matter what lake I am on, I will have the following on the deck of my boat: a 3/8 black/blue finesse flipping jig, a ½ shad colored spinnerbait, a Rat L Trap style lure, a ½ green pumpkin chatterbait, a Carolina Rig and a squarebill crankbait. I can go to any lake in our state, effectively fish the available cover and catch fish on these lures.
Well, it looks like we have run out of time and space again for another month. I assure you I will be keeping a close eye on the weather channel in the coming weeks as I prepare for the last of my tournaments this year. Remember, hunting season is in full swing as well so please be careful no matter if you are out in the woods or on the water and if possible, catch one for me!
See you next month!