RECREATIONAL - Shellfish, RECREATIONAL - Fin Fish (Other than Salmon)
As my top water lure hits the surface, I anxiously wait for the ripples to disappear. Then with confidence, I twitch it once and then again. Watching intently, I witness a fish boiling at the lure. Caught by surprise, I instinctively reared back on the rod, which then caused the lure to fire back at me in mid air.
I realize my mistake, and quickly reel in the line for a second attempt. I fire back with speed and pin-point accuracy, wait for the ripples to disappear, and start twitching the lure yet again. As suddenly as the first time, the boiling fish reappears. This time I wait until I feel the fish pull, set the hook hard and fast, and the fight is on! A sizeable bass, I release the fish. A smile hits my face, knowing that I recovered from my mistake, and fooled the fish.
For the next two hours I am fishless. Pondering more successful summer days, a sudden brisk wind reminds me that summer is well gone, and winter is here.
When most fisherman put their tackle away and wait for spring, I put on my insulated coveralls, and head for deep waters. Winter is not a time for large numbers of fish, but with time put in, you are apt to catch some of the biggest smallmouth bass you have ever seen. Typically, most anglers fish for bass when the water temperature is above the mid 40 degree mark. The warmer water temperature produces larger numbers of bass of good size. In comparison, when the water temperature reaches below the 40 degree mark, bass are more difficult to catch. However it is under such conditions that have allowed me to catch some of the largest bass in my history of bass fishing. The cooler water temperature present a greater challenge for me, as the number of strikes are fewer.
Catching smallmouth bass in cold water requires proper clothing, a good deal of patience, and a good understanding of bottom structure, depth, and tackle. A light weight rod, 6 to 6 1/2 feet in length, with a good backbone and a soft tip (classed as a medium action rod with a fast taper), equipped with 6lb monofilament or braided line, will provide you with a balanced outfit. As for lures, 3" grubs and tubes on 1/4 ounce jig heads will produce very good results. There are many other lures and methods used to produce bass, but the use of jigs is by far the most important of all of these to learn and master.
As for structure, look for protruding hard bottom structures which are off shore in 20 to 40 feet or water, when fishing colder waters. As for a good starting depth, I would chose 30 feet. Look for any structure such as points, banks, humps, deep drop-offs, or bottom transition areas which are adjacent to summer fishing areas.
It is wise to position your boat away from the structure you are fishing, at a distance which will allow you to cast into the structure. Anchor your boat in the determined location, preferably from both ends. Cast your jig up on to these structures, then very slowly drag (or lift and drop) the jig back to the boat. Methodically fan cast the structure in one direction, allowing for a good coverage of the fishing hole. Note any changes in the feel of the lure, indicating what the bottom structure consist of; or even better, a striking fish. If you feel anything uncertain, like a tick, bump, heavy or slack line, set the hook hard! Note the type of bottom where any fish are caught, and look for similar structures when moving to a new area.
If you put the time in, you will soon learn how to master the fall and winter bass fishery in British Columbia. Your efforts will be rewarded with exceptional smallmouth bass of trophy sizes. Remember though it takes roughly 8 to 10 years for a smallmouth bass to attain a weight in excess of 5 lbs., so conserve your catch by practicing responsible catch and release methods.