UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Grand Lake

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

How to Fish Power Plant Lakes in Winter

How to Fish Power Plant Lakes in Winter

FLW Tour pro Colby Schrumpf isn’t one to let winter’s cold keep him off the water. The Illinois pro competes in a wintertime tournament league on small warm-water power-plant lakes in his area. Water from the reservoirs is used to cool the plants’ innards and then discharged back into the lakes. The heated effluent causes the reservoirs to be much warmer than surrounding fisheries, setting up a unique winter opportunity.

“I fish a couple circuits up there,” Schrumpf says. “They start at the end of October and run until March. They literally have tournaments there every weekend, so I’m able to continue to fish all year. Most of our hot-water lakes around here have grass in them and generally are a little clearer because of the vegetation.”

Many of the lakes Schrumpf targets have horsepower limitations, so in order to compete he swaps out the 50-hp Mercury on his aluminum Ranger RT 178 for a 25-hp Mercury. The boat is kitted out for competition (he fished BFLs out of it in 2018) with Power-Poles, Lowrance electronics and a Minn Kota trolling motor.

Along with having the right rig for the job, Schrumpf also has the bass pretty well dialed in during the winter months, when he typically finds them transitioning from true wintering areas to prespawn spots near where they’ll eventually spawn in early spring.

Some of the power-plant lakes throughout the Midwest are borderline legendary. If you live near one or are willing to travel to keep your open-water season alive, Schrumpf’s system could work on just about any of them that have grass.

 

Temperature zones

Power-plant reservoirs typically have a warm zone near the plant’s discharge, and water temperatures taper off the farther you get from that zone.

“It [water temperature] all depends on the plant,” adds Schrumpf. “The temperature is dependent on how much energy they need to produce. Generally, this time of year temps are in the upper 40s to mid-50s.

“I like to stay on the cold-water end because that’s generally where the better grass is, and that’s where the bigger fish hang out.”

 

Hot-water prespawn staging

The spawn comes earlier on power-plant lakes in Schrumpf’s region, though the difference is not extreme. He says some bass make it to beds by late February up adjacent to the discharge while the bulk of the spawn kicks in near the end of March or early April.

Because the pro doesn’t spend much time fishing the hottest zone, and he starts fishing bigger waters and traveling for other events around the end of March, most of his focus is on prespawn patterns, particularly from December through February.

“The fish are more or less starting to stage and work toward spawning-type areas,” he says. “Right now the temperatures are getting as low as they will all year up here, and the bait actually moves shallow. It’s kind of a fall-type thing in a normal lake. Bass follow them into these feeding locations.

“Bait is very, very important,” Schrumpf adds. “If you can find the bait in areas or on points or stretches, that’s key. You have to have bait present to really get these fish activated.”

Schrumpf says some anglers like to follow the bait and bass clear up into shallower grass – say, 5 feet deep. He prefers to target them from about 8 to 15 feet.

“A lot of it is point-related stuff,” he says. “That’s the first place they’re going to set up. They’ll settle on points outside the spawning coves.”

The main-lake points and points in the mouths of creeks are early prespawn spots. As the fish transition, he follows them to large secondary points inside the creeks.

“As they move in, I’m still generally fishing a little bit deeper,” Schrumpf adds. “I don’t get shallow until they’re ready to take their location up shallow to spawn.”

Fish group up better out deep, says Schrumpf, and fishing there helps him avoid pressure up shallow, where other anglers like to sling lipless crankbaits in the grass. It also enables Schrumpf to fish out where the hydrilla beds taper off, where he can work crankbaits, jerkbaits, jigs, umbrella rigs and shaky heads easier than if he was to target the thicker grass nearer to the bank.

 

Wintertime tackle and techniques

What bait Schrumpf throws depends mainly on the water temperature.

Jerkbaits – “If it’s in the 40s to mid-50s, a lot of times I will throw the jerkbait,” he says. “That works really well. From that point I’m concentrating on a crankbait. At all times a jig will work. And ever since the invention of the Alabama Rig, that works really well up until the spawn.”

Schrumpf’s jerkbait of choice is the Lucky Craft Pointer 100 in a shad pattern. It gets about 5 feet deep, which is perfect for working over the top fringes of deep grass.

Crankbaits – “For crankbaits, primarily I’m throwing anything that’s going to dive 8 to 15 feet. I use natural baitfish colors,” says Schrumpf. “Occasionally, if the water murks up some or is in the lower end of the water temperature spectrum [low 50s], I’ll use an orangish-red color. I like the Bomber Fat A and Bandit 200 or 300 crankbaits.”

The crankbait technique is classic grass fishing. Rigged with 12-pound-test Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon and a G. Loomis CBR 783 moderate cranking rod, Schrumpf’s typical approach is to sit out on the deep end of a point and up over the outside edge of grass and bring the bait back. The edge will often form around 12 feet deep, and he works the bait out to 18 feet. Adjustments can be made based on the condition of the grass each year and the particular lake.

“I’m getting my lure down to where I can rip it through the grass,” Schrumpf adds. “It’s more dense the shallower you go. That’s generally why I put in the majority of my time in that 18-foot range. The grass is sparser and easier to move through.

“I’m triggering bites with the crankbait,” he continues. “With a Rat-L-Trap, I don’t seem to be as successful as with the crankbait. It just pulls through the grass totally different. The crankbait gets stuck harder, and it takes more resistance for me to rip it free. That extra rip breaking it free is what makes that bait work. Plus, I can fish the crankbait faster in deeper water. I get it down there and work it relatively quickly back to the boat while making contact with the grass.”

Jigs – The jig technique is similar to the cranking technique.

“I’m crawling it across the bottom, and as I feel grass I kind of rip it through,” Schrumpf says. “It’s the same type of deal; they’re biting it as it rips through.”

Shaky head – “A lot of times, once it gets in the upper 50s, I’ll introduce a shaky head with a finesse-style worm in green pumpkin or junebug,” Schrumpf says. “I cast up toward the banks or points and work it back. I’ll work it through a little easier than a jig just because it comes through easier due to its profile.”

 

Stay warm

Schrumpf says some of his best days on the power-plant lakes in his region are the nastiest, coldest, windiest days to be on the water. Obviously, the bass don’t mind the cold above the surface. Their unique warm-water habitat keeps them active, and it provides a nice opportunity to stay on a hot bite during the chilliest months of the year.

Tags: bass-fishing  -power-plant  -winter  -hot-lake  -pro-tips  curtis-niedermier  tips-and-techniques 

Floyd Cashes in on Guntersville

Floyd Cashes in on Guntersville

Last weekend, Floyd added to his already lengthy list of accomplishments with a T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Regional victory on Lake Guntersville – the tournament was presented by Mercury – with a 44-pound, 15-ounce three-day total, and it all came down to consistency and some really good decision-making. READ MORE »

How to Find Big-Water Smallmouth in Fall

How to Find Big-Water Smallmouth in Fall

The key to finding smallmouth bass on big water in the fall is to know where they’re coming from and where they’re heading, then connecting the dots in between. Swimbaits, blade baits, ChatterBaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, drop-shots and Ned rigs all put bass in the boat. READ MORE »

New Dominates Seminole Regional

New Dominates Seminole Regional

Belmont, N.C., angler Bryan New, who’s regularly one of FLW’s top performers in the grassroots ranks, had established a dominant pace. New weighed in 22 pounds, 9 ounces on day one and added 20-2 on day two to carry a lead of 6 pounds, 15 ounces into the finals. A roughly 7-pound margin isn’t necessarily a sure thing on Seminole, but the fall bite was a bit slower than what the lake can produce, and it was obvious New was cruising. READ MORE »

Hunting Big Bronze in Wisconsin

Hunting Big Bronze in Wisconsin

“On a normal day, if the best five aren’t over 25 pounds, it isn’t a good day,” Stefan says. “My best days with a buddy have been where the best five have gone 29 to 32 pounds. We get lots of 6-pounders a year, and we’ve caught some right at the 7-pound mark. I’ve had a few on that we haven’t landed that were bigger.” READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Grand Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Grand Lake

Curt Warren knew what he wanted to do, and it had nothing to do with weeding through a bunch of small fish up shallow. Rather, he focused his attention on deeper Grand Lake spots with chunk rock and brush and amassed a three-day total of 46 pounds, 7 ounces to win the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. Here’s how the rest of the top 10 caught their fish and earned their checks on Grand. READ MORE »

How to Fish a Blade Bait for Smallmouth

How to Fish a Blade Bait for Smallmouth

You can catch smallmouths on a lot of baits in the early fall, but one of the most consistent producers later in the year is a blade bait, and Scott Dobson is an expert with it. His go-to is the old-fashioned Silver Buddy, but he has some distinct preferences and tweaks for better success. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

A cold front moving in at the start of Grand Lake’s fall transition put a damper on seeing a bunch of big weights during the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, which was presented by T-H Marine, but plenty of pros managed to find the right fish to make things exciting on the final day. READ MORE »

Meador Repeats Co-Angler Win on Grand

Meador Repeats Co-Angler Win on Grand

Defending his title as co-angler winner in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, which was presented by T-H Marine, was impressive enough, but the way Steven Meador did it was truly remarkable. After earning the 2018 win on Grand by 3 pounds, 6 ounces, the Bentonville, Ark., co-angler repeated the victory with a three-day total of 27-15 for a much slimmer winning margin this time around – just 10 ounces. READ MORE »

Warren Mounts Furious Comeback on Grand

Warren Mounts Furious Comeback on Grand

Curt Warren was a paragon of consistency over three days at Grand Lake, and the result was a victory in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. Warren turned in limits of 14-5 on day one and 16-9 on day two, but it was his day-three limit of 15-9 that was the most impressive – no other pro even cracked the 13-pound mark battling the tough post-frontal conditions Grand had to offer on day three. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Typically, the first day or two following a cold front put bass in a bad mood, and today, Grand Lake’s fish are following the script. This has created a challenging scenario for the top-10 finalists in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 2

When conditions changed, Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas completely scrapped his day-one pattern, caught a limit that weighed 13-11 and took over the lead of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event, presented by T-H Marine, with a two-day total of 32-14. Here’s what the rest of the top five was up to on day two. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

You know fishing’s tough when the most common greeting we receive is the goose egg hand signal. No question, day two of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, had a lot of anglers scratching for bites and scratching their heads. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 1

Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., leveraged his intimate understanding of Grand Lake’s tendencies to catch a five-bass limit that weighed 22 pounds, 10 ounces to take the lead on day one of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event Presented by T-H Marine. Here are the details of the rest of the top five. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update - Day 1

Grand Lake Midday Update - Day 1

After several weeks of hot, sunny conditions, anglers launched with cloudy skies, stout winds and air temperatures in the low 60s. By midday, the temperature rose into the mid to upper 60s and the wind started to subside, however, the first couple of hours saw Grand Lake’s temperamental side. READ MORE »

Changes Afoot at Grand Lake

Changes Afoot at Grand Lake

Fall is a time of change and movement; two notions bound to impact the outcome of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. Typical fall migrations are underway, but an approaching cold front will likely complicate the already challenging nature of autumn’s transition. READ MORE »

Valdivia is Best in the West

Valdivia is Best in the West

California pro David Valdivia has consistently finished near the top of the standings in the Costa FLW Series Western Division. This year he finally won his first Strike King Angler of the Year award, and he did it by just one point in the standings. READ MORE »

How to Find the Best Docks in Early Fall

How to Find the Best Docks in Early Fall

While there’s almost no bad time of year to find a dock pattern, early fall is a prime season for it. The catch is that as shad transition throughout a reservoir in the fall, some bass go on the move with them. So dialing in a key stretch of docks or a dock pattern can at times be challenging, particularly on lakes with a lot of docks. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the Cal Delta

Top 10 Patterns from the Cal Delta

The Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Power-Pole on the California Delta featured all the typical Delta tactics. Punching, vibrating jigs, finesse and even a frog made an appearance in the top 10. READ MORE »

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Grand Lake has been flooded for most of the summer, and, as a result, it hasn’t received as much fishing pressure as is typical for one of the premier fisheries in the region. Weights for the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, have the potential to be outstanding for this time of year, but it may all come down to what the weather decides to do leading up to the event. READ MORE »

The Cal Delta is Looking Good

The Cal Delta is Looking Good

This week the Costa FLW Series Western Division will conclude with the final event of the season on the California Delta. The tournament, which is presented by Power-Pole, should showcase a different side of the Delta, given that most of the Western Division tournaments on the famed fishery take place in the spring. That said, last year’s event on the Delta fell on nearly identical dates as this year and could be a good tease for how things may shake out this time around. READ MORE »