UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Potomac River

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Fishing the Worst Conditions

Fishing the Worst Conditions

Watching giant bags of bass caught down in Texas and Florida on FLW Live during FLW Tour events has many anglers dying to get on the water. The only problem is that a lot of people are still facing some of the toughest conditions for catching a bass – cold, muddy, moving water.  

This isn’t as much of an issue for people who live near clear-water fisheries, but if you’re like me and find yourself only having close access to less-than-ideal waters for winter fishing, you might consider foregoing fishing to work on tackle and dream about the warmer months when the bite will be better.

However, there are still bites to be had when you have only the worst conditions to fish. These are my favorite tips for getting your line stretched when faced with what I think are the absolute toughest conditions for bass fishing.

 

Get your mind right

Fishing in tough conditions calls for a completely different mindset. You have to go into it knowing that you aren’t going to get nearly as many bites as you might if you were on a reservoir that is known for good winter fishing – somewhere like Lake Lanier. I fish the Arkansas River near my home this time of year, and I like to set goals but keep them reasonable. Sometimes they’re small goals.

I like to start with just trying to get one bite per area. That’s right; just a single bite. I’m not worried about size, weight or anything other than just getting something to eat, at least to start with. Once I get a couple of bites I can start worrying about fine-tuning things to catch a better bag.

You hear all the time that you need to be “mentally tough” while fishing. This could not be truer in these conditions. You really have to tell yourself that you WILL get a bite in the area … and believe it, too. Confidence catches fish. If you begin second-guessing your area before you ever make a cast, you might as well put it back on the trailer.

 

Improve the conditions

Although things might look absolutely terrible at the ramp, that doesn’t mean you can’t find areas that offer SLIGHTLY better conditions. When it comes to fishing a cold and muddy Arkansas River, for instance, I look for areas that have cleaner water – even slightly cleaner – with no current.

In my case, that generally means looking for backwaters that are blocked off at the top by a rock jetty or other feature. There’s usually a deep hole right next to the jetty that’s caused by current washing over the top during high-water times, and the hole makes an awesome wintering spot for bait and bass. Many times these backwater areas will have warmer water as well.

Remember that on rivers, the water flowing down usually has a lower temperature than still-water areas. I’ve seen flowing water coming down that was in the mid- to high 30s, while the backwaters close by offered waters in the mid-40s. Once in these areas, I look for things that will hold even a bit more heat, such as rocks, logs, trees, brush, or even old barrels or tires (we are talking about river fishing, after all).

On other fisheries, you’ll need to look for similar situations, or key on areas with the most sunlight (south-facing banks), least cold-water runoff, etc. There’s usually some type of area on a lake or reservoir that fits what I’m describing.

 

Low and slow with confidence baits 

When bites are limited, it’s not the time to be experimenting with the newest bait or technique. I like to keep it simple when it comes to lure selection. This means no more than four rods. That’s it. I like to have two moving baits and two things I can just drag around. I only use baits that I know will get bites under all conditions. For me that means a spinnerbait, crankbait, finesse jig and drop-shot, and these pretty well apply all over the country.

Although these are common lures and presentations, I fish them in a bit of an uncommon way in tough conditions. Because the water is muddy, I like to have my bait in contact with cover and structure as much as possible. How I do it depends on the bait.

Crankbait – Everyone knows that a crankbait makes a great offering for a winter bass, but I like to use big plugs and throw them considerably shallower than they were intended to be used. For example, I might throw a Rapala DT14 down a rock jetty in only 5 feet of water. I can crawl it at a snail’s pace and keep it down easily.

Spinnerbait – This presentation is the same. I crawl it. Typically, I want weights from 1/2 to 1 ounce, depending on the depth I’m trying to hit. I try to fish it as slowly as I possibly can. I’m not afraid to wind it so slow that it almost feels like I’m dragging it like a jig along bottom or through the limbs of a big laydown.  

Jig and drop-shot – I always make a point to go with the lightest jig or drop-shot weight I can get away with and still feel the bottom. The lighter weight forces me to slow down the presentation to stay in contact with the cover/structure.

 

Spring isn’t too far around the corner, but if you want to get in some early fishing and are faced with some of the toughest conditions, try these tips to help you get hooked up.

You can follow Cody Kelley on Facebook and Instagram.

Tags: cody-kelley  blog 

Introducing Myself

Introducing Myself

I want to start off by telling you a little bit about myself. I grew up in Pennsylvania about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia. I grew up fishing for whatever would bite with my grandfather and in middle school I had a friend who started taking me with his dad down to the Chesapeake Bay. That was my first time ever on a bass boat, and I was immediately hooked! READ MORE »

Riding the Roller Coaster

Riding the Roller Coaster

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog, although it seems like the last one was just yesterday. This season has flown by, and I finally have some down time before the last stop on the FLW Tour at Lake Champlain. This Tour season has been full of ups and downs, and I’ve learned a lot. READ MORE »

The History of the Drop-Shot

The History of the Drop-Shot

FLW Tour pro James Niggemeyer recalls his first introduction to the drop-shot, as well as what came before it and how he developed his tackle to have better success with this capable finesse bass bait. READ MORE »

From Dead Last to Making Money

From Dead Last to Making Money

If you were hanging out with me at the FLW Tour event on Seminole recently, you would have thought I won the tournament. I was congratulated by every pro I saw, and they were being genuine. READ MORE »

How to Deal with Dock Talk

How to Deal with Dock Talk

If you fish tournaments or follow tournament fishing, you know about dock talk. It’s the chatter that goes on among bass fishermen during and around tournaments on subjects such as how the fish are biting, what patterns are in play, the weather and just how much of a grind it’s been. Dock talk can be dangerous. It can lead you astray if you listen to the wrong person. It can hurt your confidence if you hear about someone else really catching ’em doing something different. It can distract you from your game plan and your goals. Dock talk rarely gives you the complete story. READ MORE »

Moving into My New Office

Moving into My New Office

The new year to many professional fishermen also means a new boat. Some people like the smell of a new car — who doesn’t, really? But the smell of new fiberglass is better than that. It’s better than the smell of warm apple pie to me. READ MORE »

How to Work in Fishing

How to Work in Fishing

There was a time when the only way to make money at fishing and to express your love for our sport was by fishing tournaments, but that’s just not true anymore. With the growth curve we’ve had, the economic muscle of the fishing industry has spawned some interesting opportunities that didn’t really exist years ago.  Now, there are many jobs in the fishing industry that allow someone with a creative mind to indulge in what they love to do. I get to be around a lot of pros, but my job has also brought me into contact with a lot of folks with other jobs in fishing. So, here are four people I think you should follow and study if you know you belong in the fishing industry, but you don’t know exactly where yet. READ MORE »

Why We Need More Winter Bass Tournaments

Why We Need More Winter Bass Tournaments

FLW Tour pro Brian Latimer explains why he loves winter bass fishing and tournaments. READ MORE »

Get More out of Guide Trips

Get More out of Guide Trips

Guide trips are great opportunities to learn about bass fishing and to have an enjoyable day on the water without the pressure of having to find fish and figure out patterns on your own. I highly recommend them, especially if you’re sitting around during the offseason with nothing much to do. READ MORE »

Martin’s Final Prep for the 2019 Tour

Martin’s Final Prep for the 2019 Tour

Getting mentally prepared is the biggest thing for me. There’s a process, and it has to be done. Everything has to be ready so when I roll into Texas to start practice for Sam Rayburn on Jan. 6 I know exactly where every piece of tackle is stowed and exactly how every piece of equipment works and exactly what I need to accomplish to support my sponsors and keep my own media  projects on schedule. Sometimes the preparation goes into panic mode, like I’m in hyperventilate mode or something, but that’s just part of it. READ MORE »

Life Between Seasons for a Pro Angler

Life Between Seasons for a Pro Angler

As busy as a Tour pro stays from August until December, getting things lined up for the following year, I still find time to relax a bit. Like most fishermen, I also enjoy passing time in the fall and winter by going hunting.   READ MORE »

Meet the Latimers

Meet the Latimers

I know everyone isn’t in the same situation, but personally, I wouldn’t want to try to be a pro angler and not have kids or a family. I got married in 2008, and I fished the EverStart FLW Series the first year I got married. READ MORE »

Create a Base List of Go-To Baits

Create a Base List of Go-To Baits

Every season, my garage goes from organized to absolute chaos as I come and go from one tournament to the next. By the time I empty out my boat in the fall to sell it, I wind up with a mountain of tackle that needs to be dealt with. It needs to be culled, cleaned up, organized, re-stocked or replaced so it can be packed into my new boat, organized in the garage or stowed in my truck bed camper, keeping in mind all the lakes and reservoirs the FLW Tour will be visiting from January through August. READ MORE »

A New Plan for 2019

A New Plan for 2019

If you haven’t been living under a rock this offseason then you know there are going to be some well-known faces missing from the FLW Tour next year. Over the years, my brother Jared and I have run a lot with the Johnston brothers, Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson and Jeff Sprague, and now they’ve all switched to fishing other circuits. It’s like high school again. At least, that’s the best analogy I can find: You grew up with the same buddies, but after you graduate you go your separate ways. I’m really sad about it. READ MORE »

You’re Not Great at Everything

You’re Not Great at Everything

My wheelhouse is shallow power fishing, mainly with single hook-type baits such as spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, bladed jigs, jigs, soft plastics, and flipping and pitching baits. But I also really like topwater and shallow cranking, plus sight-fishing. That’s where I feel like I really excel. READ MORE »

Fishing for a Championship

Fishing for a Championship

Watching the Forrest Wood Cup and the Bassmaster Classic as a kid was the source of, literally, my entire life’s motivation. I want to fish as a professional angler, and I love what I do every day, but the thought of fishing the Classic and the Forrest Wood Cup – that’s really what I want to do. I want to walk across that stage and be fishing against the top 50 guys in the world. For some guys the dream is Angler of the Year or finishing well in a Tour event or whatever, but mine has always been that big stage. READ MORE »

How to Fish Florida in the Fall

How to Fish Florida in the Fall

It’s been a while since my first blog, and with the season wrapping up around the rest of the country I figure it’s time to talk about Florida fishing. The big national tournaments don’t come down here this time of year, but the fishing is pretty good. It’s pretty simple this time of year, too. You just need a couple of rods. READ MORE »

How to Long-Line Pressured Smallies

How to Long-Line Pressured Smallies

So, up north, what we call “long-lining” has become a popular technique. It’s not done with a crankbait, like Southern ledge fishermen do, but it’s similar. You get your bait out a long way from the boat, and then drag it over key areas. It takes a long time to reel a fish in, but you get probably five times as many bites just by getting your bait that far away. READ MORE »

Jumpsuits, Patches and Bell-bottoms

Jumpsuits, Patches and Bell-bottoms

These days just about everybody puts something on every square inch of their shirts. There’s even a style of jersey with elastic armpits. It’s so you can cast easier, but there’s also a place there where you can put another sponsor’s logo that shows up when you hold up a fish or a trophy. Those guys back in the day were nowhere in the same league as far as showing off sponsors. READ MORE »

Why You Need to be Tying the FG Knot

Why You Need to be Tying the FG Knot

In my last couple years in Australia I learned the FG knot, which is a Japanese knot that originated from the guys fishing for giant trevally. They wanted to be able to use 100-pound-test braid with a 130-pound-test leader and be able to cast it through the guides. It’s the only knot I know that has 100 percent knot strength. The FG knot is actually stronger than the line, and it’s a plaited knot, which means the braid is woven around the fluorocarbon, so it’s super thin and there’s no curl in the fluorocarbon or anything. READ MORE »