Kelly Bostian: Fishing beats deer-hunting when weather warms up
BY KELLY BOSTIAN World Outdoors Writer
Thursday, November 29, 2012
11/29/12 at 5:13 AM
Go to Kelly Bostian's blog Original Print Headline: Weather's fine for fishing
BLAME MY northern upbringing but, folks, my desire to hunt deer declines exponentially as the mercury climbs over 50 degrees. By the time it hits 70 - pull me out, I'm done.
That's a bad attitude and purely my own problem, let's be clear about that. Rifle season closes Sunday so we have just a few good days left. If you go, as I mentioned Tuesday and Jack Morris said in his Pro Tips column last Sunday, put in time on the stand and consider using calls and scents to make things happen. A few hunters have asked what's going on with the deer but all I can say is I talked to two guys this week who said they don't think the deer are moving much and I talked to two guys this week who shot bucks at 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., respectively, and one of those guys was out of his stand and heading out when he spotted his buck.
As the saying goes, you can't shoot a deer sitting at home on the couch. Personally, I'm going to let y'all go out and shoot deer while I think about going fishing. I'll have plenty of time to sit in a tree stand with my bow and get numb toes between Sunday and Jan. 15.
Come on out, folks, the water's fine.
True fall/winter transition conditions have been a long time coming this year but the water in most of our larger lakes is now in that 50-degree range and bass, crappie and catfish are working into predictable patterns.
If you want to catch bass there are few, if any, activities that would be better than fishing for bass between about 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The forecast is for warm weather, the water temperature will be a little warmer at the surface and in shallow areas and it makes for a good formula.
"When the sun is low it's indirect. It's still light but it's not the harsh midday sun," said Brent Gordon, biologist with Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "The water is just a little warmer closer to the surface and that will put them in a mood to feed."
Eufaula crappie and catfish guide Barry Morrow seconded Gordon's assessment of the fall/winter turnover period. "Fall going into winter, more than any other time of year, the early bite and late bite are best," he said.
He was talking just after dawn and just before sunset but, given a choice between good fishing at 35 degrees at sunrise and equally good fishing just before sundown when it's 65 degrees, well, guess what time I'm going to drive to the lake?
Before I share some crappie tips from Morrow, I want throw out a few words on catfish, particularly blues. Those words, from Gordon: "For whatever reason the bigger blue cats, this time of year, fishermen can get more on jugs than we can electro-fishing," he said.
Folks, electro-fishing is better than dynamite. Cast a net late in the day for shad when they come up to enjoy that warmer surface water, break out the jugs and hang lines for some blue cats.
For crappie fishermen, Morrow offered the following key points:
Locate structure: Use sonar and/or slow vertical trolling to look and feel for brush, timber, channel breaks. Also check the mouths of primary creeks and coves off the main lake where fish may hold on the channel breaks going up into those coves.
Check various depths: It depends on where you find that structure. You might find some 4- to 5-feet deep over the top of brush piles, but you might also find them 12- to 14-feet deep around standing timber.
Check creek channels: In the creeks and rivers, look for pockets holding 12 to 20 feet of water, mostly on the bends.
Try casting technique: Cast over structure with lightweight line and 1/16th-ounce jigs and count down to check the depth on your retrieve. Also consider casting with a Lindy slip cork and 1/16th-ounce or 1/8th-ounce jig with a 2-inch grub.
Jigging brush piles: When jigging a brush pile, start with a presentation around the very tops, then move to the outer edges and finally try slowly, dropping it deeper into the brush. "Go real slow," Morrow said. "Drop it until you feel the brush. You'll know when you're in the right area, usually you're going to get a bite just inside the brush. Keep the line tight so you can feel the least little touch or pick-up. The bite can be soft this time of year."
Never quit: Be persistent and return to areas you've fished before after light or weather conditions change through the day. Often you'll get bites where you didn't before.