Hot Water Bassin'
By Tom Lester
I recall my first experience fishing a power plant lake. I was fifteen years old when a friend of mine, Wayne Brown of Corsicana, Texas, took me to Fairfield Lake. We cat fished and ran trotlines together for years, as well as deer hunted and coon hunted together. In fact, in many ways, Wayne raised me and taught me to love and appreciate the outdoors. We always caught a lot of fish and had a great time at Fairfield Lake. I'll always be grateful to him for teaching the things he taught me and for always being willing to take me with him.
For several years, I did not return to Fairfield Lake. I was off at college or working in towns far away from there. My interest in fishing turned from cat fishing to bass fishing. I fished several large lakes, but never thought to go bass fishing at Fairfield Lake until I read a fishing report in January. The report said the bass fishing was excellent. I couldn't believe it. In the dead of winter, how could bass fishing be excellent at a lake I had only known to be a great cat fishing lake? I had to check it out.
From my years of going to Fairfield, I knew the lake pretty well, as far as the structure and cover. I called up a bass fishing friend of mine and in early 1991, I returned to Fairfield for the first time in several years. Only this time, the only treble hooks I had were found on my Norman crankbaits.
We headed over to the hot water discharge where we found the surface water temperature to be in the 70's while the outside temperature was in the low 40's. I was throwing a shad colored Deep Little N on a main lake point when I boated my first Fairfield Lake fish in over 8 years, a 3/4 pound channel cat. That's right, a catfish, and not a bass. I suppose it was an omen or something that after spending so many days and nights catching catfish on that lake that the first fish to get landed was ole' Mr. Whiskers himself.
Needless to say, I put down the crankbait and began pitching a ½ oz. Bulldog jig into the shallow, flooded cattails. After a few minutes, I pitched the jig into a small opening in the tall, tough grass and my line began darting off to the side. I didn't even have time to reel up any slack, the fish took it all with him. I set back on the rod, setting the hook and wrestled a four-pounder out of the thick cattails and onto the deck of my Ranger. Talk about exciting. We continued pitching and flipping jigs the rest of the afternoon catching numerous bass. It was a great day of bass fishing.
A week later I returned, but couldn't find the fish in the cattails as I had the week before. After a couple of hours, I pulled out into deeper water and began Carolina-rigging the points and secondary points. It only took a few casts and there it went again. Fish after fish ate the watermelon colored Zoom centipede I drug across the points. I must have caught 30 or so bass that day. Although it wasn't as fun as flippin' the cattails, it was sure better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
Each year in December, January and February I travel to my old cat fishing lake to catch bass. The warmer water produced by the power plant brings springtime bass fishing conditions to us earlier in the year than our other reservoirs. It's kinda like peeking at your Christmas presents before Christmas. We bass fishermen that travel to Fairfield Lake get to fish for spawning bass months before everyone else does. And we all know that spring time bass fishing is the best time to catch lots of fish and even the occasional, big 'un.
If you catch a pretty day this winter and get the bug to go bassin', find yourself a power plant lake and get a jump on your spring bass fishing. Hartley Young of Corsicana, Texas and I made the 45 mile drive yesterday and boated over 25 small bass in less than 3 hours. It was a great way to spend the afternoon.
It is a great place to take a youngster and teach them to worm fish or Carolina-rig for bass. They can have tremendous success which is key to keeping kids interest up in fishing. Heck, who knows, maybe I can even talk Wayne into going with me someday and return the favor to him for taking me all of those years and introducing me to a great catfish and bass lake.
Until next time, enjoy the great outdoors.