The magic of wintertime fishing

I grew up in the Midwest fishing lakes that are incredible the week before the ice goes on. In fact, last December we were catching 70 bass a day shortly before our lakes locked up, and we were the only ones on the water.

So, when I joined Brandon Lester last week for a nasty day on Dale Hollow Lake in Kentucky to film a future Zona’s Awesome Fishing Show, the cold weather didn’t faze me.

Well, not too much. I’m not gonna lie — it was cold — like 16 degrees when we launched the boat that morning, and the water was in the low 40s. At least we didn’t see any jet skis or pleasure boaters.

I’m like anyone else — I like fishing in 75 sunny degrees and no wind. But when you can enjoy the fishing we had at Dale Hollow, who cares?

It was insane! I taped a show there with Davy Hite a few years ago and fishing was good. But this time, it was utterly amazing.

Regardless of where you fish, there’s something magical when you can get largemouth or smallmouth to bite during winter. And when you get both in one spot, it’s addicting.

And this outing was very addicting.

We could throw our jigs out and catch a 3 1/2-pound largemouth on one cast and on the next catch a 3- to 4-pound smallmouth.

There aren’t many places in the country where you can do that and get that many bites regardless of the time of year.

What’s even more remarkable is how hard these fish hit that jig. They didn’t care how cold it was — they wanted to take the rod out of your hands.

I’m a certified jig fishin’ psychopath, so I’m not afraid to say this might be the best jig lake in the country.

I was throwing the same jig I used when I fished there with Davy — a green pumpkin 3/4-ounce Strike King Football Jig with a Rage Bug trailer. It was like they’d never seen it before.

And man, those fish were easy to pattern once we figured out what to look for. It was textbook winter fishing and no different than what we do in Michigan during cold weather months. Find deep flats adjacent to deeper water, and if the bait is there, the bass will be there.

We were targeting flats in 18 to 25 feet of water cradled by a bluff-like dropoff. We positioned our boat over 50 feet and could throw that jig up on the flat and anticipate the bite.

I could look at my Lakemaster Map, find similar places, and run from spot to spot. We found fish on every one of them and all over the lake.

It’s insane how good it was. Dale Hollow always has been known as a smallmouth factory, but grass has gotten into the lake the past few years and the largemouth are coming on strong. When I taped there with Davy a few years ago, we caught a few largemouth, but it’s loaded now.

This deep-water, jig fishin’ junkie was in heaven, and although Brandon lives down the road and had only fished there once, he was equally blown away.

When we called it a day, it was because we had enough footage. There is no doubt in my mind that we could have gone back out there and continued to catch those fish and could probably do it every day for the next month or so until the water warms and the fish move up.

Seriously, it’s that good right now.

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