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Ozark_Basser

Finding The Warmest Water In The Winter

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All this talk about structure has me thinking a lot about winter fishing. But what about one of the most important parts of finding fish in the winter which is finding the warmest water or objects that hold the most warmth? Her are a few of the things I've been considering when I go out.

Periods of warm and cold weather - in periods of cold weather, deeper water will be warmer and just the opposite for warmer periods.

Water color - stained water heats up faster.

The west side of the lake - the sun rises from the east so the west side of the lake will generally experience the most warmth from the sun.

Areas of the lake protected from wind - this seems more situational. Whenever the air temperature is colder than the water temperature, these areas are a good spot to check, but on warm days the wind is beneficial. In general, areas protected from cold north winds are going to be warmer.

Cover - wood and rock hold heat in cold water and the larger the object the better. ( i.e.large trees or stumps and boulders)

Am I missing anything?

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Not as I can see! Water temp is extremely important, just a few degrees can make or break your day this time of year. Rocks on Northwesternly banks can be money this time of year.

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Add red-clay banks to your list.  When we get into early spring, an effective pattern is to target these later in the day after the sun warms them up.  Fish will usually be active. 

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I have caught more bass during winter in the coldest water around that I have looking for the warmest.

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tires! i fish a lake that has about 8-10 tires along a bank maybe 5 to 8ft from the bank and when the water starts to heat up i can always count on the tires to hold fish

 

p.s im not making this up i actually read this in an article

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I have caught more bass during winter in the coldest water around that I have looking for the warmest.

How cold does the water get down in Lake Charles?

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How cold does the water get down in Lake Charles?

Toledo Bend is in the mid 40s ;)

Every bass in the lake does not swim to the warmest water in the lake.

Despite popular beliefs bass do not stop feeding in winter.

A bass's metabolism slows down which mean it takes them longer to digest their food but they still eat. And like in summer they will hit your lure even though their belly is full.

It is fairly easy to catch bass in cold water, if you can find them and if you use the right techniques. This means putting a lure in front of the bass that looks right, sounds right, and sounds right.

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Agreed. Even in small waters, the warmest isn't always what you are looking for. It can help, however, once you find wintering locations in your water -which means stability in terms of oxygen, lack of current, food, and temperature -probably in order of importance. Having warming conditions can be a plus, after you've figured out where your bass are.

 

A general trend, in lakes that freeze, is for the warmest water to be on bottom and fish may follow this general trend. But in many bass waters, oxygen depletes down there and bass either move or become inactive.

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Agreed. Even in small waters, the warmest isn't always what you are looking for. It can help, however, once you find wintering locations in your water -which means stability in terms of oxygen, lack of current, food, and temperature -probably in order of importance. Having warming conditions can be a plus, after you've figured out where your bass are.

A general trend, in lakes that freeze, is for the warmest water to be on bottom and fish may follow this general trend. But in many bass waters, oxygen depletes down there and bass either move or become inactive.

How would you go about finding which areas of the lake have good oxygen levels? All I know is that gases are generally more soluble in colder liquids. It seems as though colder water would only aid in stable oxygen levels.

I guess a better question is which water could you eliminate due to poor oxygen levels. I would imagine water deeper than around 40-50ft would have poor oxygen levels. Anything else?

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During winter months there are certain conditions one must pay attention to if one wants to be productive.

The first is stability as in stable weather; I don't care what the ambient temperature is as long as the weather has been stable for 3-4 days. In order to take full advantage of stable conditions one must have the abaility to pick & choose the days you can fish.

The second is the bass itself; a bass's metabolism is finely tuned to its circulatory system's temperature which is the same as the sourrounding water temperature. In cold water their metabolism slows down, their brain slows down, so the bass slows down. In cold water a bass's instincts are less finely tuned, it has less appetite and it mostly stays suspended at or near the bottom. The colder the water, the slower the bass's brain operates so the slower you must present the lure or it's gone before the bass's brain tells it to eat.

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During winter months there are certain conditions one must pay attention to if one wants to be productive.

The first is stability as in stable weather; I don't care what the ambient temperature is as long as the weather has been stable for 3-4 days. In order to take full advantage of stable conditions one must have the abaility to pick & choose the days you can fish.

The second is the bass itself; a bass's metabolism is finely tuned to its circulatory system's temperature which is the same as the sourrounding water temperature. In cold water their metabolism slows down, their brain slows down, so the bass slows down. In cold water a bass's instincts are less finely tuned, it has less appetite and it mostly stays suspended at or near the bottom. The colder the water, the slower the bass's brain operates so the slower you must present the lure or it's gone before the bass's brain tells it to eat.

This is pretty interesting. I understand that their metabolism slows down since the are cold blooded, but I never really considered that their brain slows down as well. This makes sense. I've had bass jump out of the water trying to shake a hook even though they had already come off a couple of seconds before. However I have caught a good deal of bass fishing relatively fast in the winter.

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One of the hottest lures from now until the spawn is a slow rolling a Rat-L-Trap!

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How would you go about finding which areas of the lake have good oxygen levels? All I know is that gases are generally more soluble in colder liquids. It seems as though colder water would only aid in stable oxygen levels.

I guess a better question is which water could you eliminate due to poor oxygen levels. I would imagine water deeper than around 40-50ft would have poor oxygen levels. Anything else?

You can't, practically speaking. Instruments are expensive and impractical. You can only recognize conditions that might result in oxygen depletion. You probably aren't going to have to worry about it much being in AR.

 

The biggest culprit is excessive fertility, and associated decomposition. O2 depletion in winter usually occurs under ice which blocks sunlight (for photosynthesis) and doesn't allow circulation with air. You probably have little concerns there being in AR. In summer, it usually happens below a thermocline but can also occur in stagnant areas in shallower waters with highly turbid water that blocks enough light coupled with high temps and high fertility. I suppose it's quite possible that a highly fertile pond surrounded by forest that doesn't allow wind circulation could create oxygen depletion in the depths.

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The coldest water I have fished out west is 42 deg. Our lakes that have bass don't usually freeze over. I do catch fish on cranks, lip less cranks, spinnerbaits and other moving baits. I fish them pretty slow though. To add to what Catt said... One thing I have noticed is fish tend to feed in shorter periods. Many times I will go most of the day with out a bite and then for an hour or so the bite turns on. I also tend to do well in pre-frontal conditions and I have caught some really big bass during the storms. Those post frontal days or real irregular weather patterns can make for a real grind.

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You can't, practically speaking. Instruments are expensive and impractical. You can only recognize conditions that might result in oxygen depletion. You probably aren't going to have to worry about it much being in AR.

 

The biggest culprit is excessive fertility, and associated decomposition. O2 depletion in winter usually occurs under ice which blocks sunlight (for photosynthesis) and doesn't allow circulation with air. You probably have little concerns there being in AR. In summer, it usually happens below a thermocline but can also occur in stagnant areas in shallower waters with highly turbid water that blocks enough light coupled with high temps and high fertility. I suppose it's quite possible that a highly fertile pond surrounded by forest that doesn't allow wind circulation could create oxygen depletion in the depths.

Photosynthesis for the plankton I'm guessing? I forget that plankton produce oxygen. As far as the thermocline goes, what keeps the fish there in the summer? I fish a lake that will commonly have a thermocline in the 30 ft range in the summer. Why are bass generally right at the thermocline and not ten foot above it usually? Oxygen would be good in both regions. Next on the list is food. I don't see why shad would find it necessary either. I guess it has to do with temperature. I have read that bass have a preferred water temperature in the low seventies. I would assume around the same for shad. Is temperature the deciding factor in this case?

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Macrophytes (rooted veges) also can continue to live and produce oxygen in winter too -even through relatively clear ice. Biggest side of the equation is respiration from decomposition.

 

Bass relation to the thermocline is most likely food related. Probably they are there with the shad, which have similar temp "preferences". The shad are almost assuredly there with the zooplankton. Bass "prefer" the temperature where the food is. But they grow best at just over 80F.

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Macrophytes (rooted veges) also can continue to live and produce oxygen in winter too -even through relatively clear ice. Biggest side of the equation is respiration from decomposition.

 

Bass relation to the thermocline is most likely food related. Probably they are there with the shad, which have similar temp "preferences". The shad are almost assuredly there with the zooplankton. Bass "prefer" the temperature where the food is. But they grow best at just over 80F.

Zooplankton are more prevelant at the thermocline than ten foot above it????

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Toledo Bend is in the mid 40s ;)

Every bass in the lake does not swim to the warmest water in the lake.

Despite popular beliefs bass do not stop feeding in winter.

A bass's metabolism slows down which mean it takes them longer to digest their food but they still eat. And like in summer they will hit your lure even though their belly is full.

It is fairly easy to catch bass in cold water, if you can find them and if you use the right techniques. This means putting a lure in front of the bass that looks right, sounds right, and sounds right.

I agree with and have some experience with all of this. I guess I shouldn't say that water temp isn't extremely important in finding fish but rather more active fish.

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Zooplankton are more prevelant at the thermocline than ten foot above it????

I was referring to under ice. But, yes, zooplankton can be more prevalent deeper, esp in lakes with lots of zooplankton predators.

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I will target the same area in winter that I do in the summer.  I look for cover that is over some kind of structure, and I look for big weed beds that are down deep.

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The warmest part of the body of water is the farthest northern area. It gets the most sunlite the longest as the daylights minutes increase each day.

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The warmest part of the body of water is the farthest northern area. It gets the most sunlite the longest as the daylights minutes increase each day.

So on Toledo Bend I should run 70 miles north just to find water a couple degrees warmer when I have bass in front of me?

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So on Toledo Bend I should run 70 miles north just to find water a couple degrees warmer when I have bass in front of me?

On a body of water that has a bass population like Toledo Bend, I don't think it matters as much.

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Toad Mode, you know about heat and what retains heat.

 

Just like those black Trackers. Want to burn yourself in the summer heat???

 

Items in the water, including stained and muddy water, absorb heat and although the water temperature will not skyrocket it will increase.

 

Same is true for shallow water against the bank that can retain heat.

 

So how does the heat get into the structure?  From the sun.

 

So look for stained water or structure in the water that is being hit by the sun.

 

Like the north and west banks of any lake or pond.

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Once grass is dead it holds heat & bass ;)

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