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Winter Fishing…Who Knew?

Posted: February 6th, 2013 by Bill Dance

There was a time in my neck of the world (the Mid-South) when a truck hauling bass boat around on wintry day stuck out like a snowmobile in July. Oh yeah, sure, there were several cold-water sauger fishermen out and about, but generally anglers didn’t venture out for winter trips

Of course, today’s generation probably doesn’t even remember such times. Today, fishing boats traveling the roadways to and fro winter trips are relatively common. Why? Well, because they/we know better. Today more anglers know that if they work at it, and sometimes sacrifice some comforts, they can catch fish in the most extreme conditions. They know a slight a slight warming trend in winter can make all the difference in an area’s fishing conditions. Even in winter, fishing can go from bad to good with basically a slight change of the water temp.

When I see so many winter anglers out and about today, I often ponder: “Why more of us in our region didn’t venture out on way back in the famed day?” I mean it is not like people elsewhere in our nation (and the world) had not been catching cold-water fish for centuries. For example, Native Americans in Wisconsin even used fish-shaped decoys atop the ice to lure fish when spear-fishing. And ice-fishing has long been a historic pastime among northerners.

Winter fishing for various species was once simply something most people did not do, especially in the mid-southern states. So the question is one that humans so often ask in reflection: why didn’t we think of it sooner? I mean we lived in a region where we did not have to normally break ice to fish, yet, we likely knew people elsewhere in the country were catching fish in icy conditions. Was the world that small of a place? Did we not know we could catch fish cold? Or was it just our culture and winter was largely seen as a time for sportsmen to hunt, not fish?

Of course, way back then, there were some rebels. For example, I often went anyway. Being stubborn and that addicted to fishing, I went whenever I could. Likewise, I passed whatever information I learned along to you. And shared information in tactics, techniques, in successes and failures, is a piece of what help popularize winter fishing for various species in this region.

And though I am not taking sole credit for encouraging more anglers to try winter fishing, I do like to think I helped. It is kind of heart-warming that my early cold-water adventures, with ice on the rod guides and near frost-bitten fingers, might have helped others better enjoy our sport. (Does anybody other than me remember using PAM cooking spray and maybe WD-40 to once combat icing on guides?)

I believe the bottom line is that the change came from shared information. It made a good thing better. And it likewise reminds me we live in an exciting time with fishing information so easy to share (via computers, smart phones and tablets). Think about it: today there is a world of fishing info literally at your fingertips. Take advantage of it and perhaps consider the old timers that abandoned the comfort zone in pursuit of frigid fish and used their own (cold) fingers to help point you in the right direction

Stay warm, and catch one in the cold for me!

Bill Dance


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