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the reel ess

Winter and time of day you start fishing

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You guys who fish all winter (I mean the southern winter from TX around to SC-NC, not the northern winter with the hard water) do you start first thing in the morning as you would in the other seasons? Or do you wait for the sun to get high in the sky and warm up the top layer of water? I recall the Classic at Lake Hartwell, SC where the temps were in single digits one morning. The start was delayed a couple hours and some of the anglers were ticked because they'd been catching their best fish shallow and  early.

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I fish year round up here unless/until there's some ice, which isn't every year. 

I can't ever recall doing well early morning in the winter, so, I actually make decision on when to go out partly based upon predicted warming through the day.  If a couple hours delay will mean 20 degrees, I may wait.  If it isn't going to warm much, I will go as early as I'm ready.  But, I admit, its more about my personal kayaking comfort than what I expect the fish to be doing. 

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I wait until the air is above 32 if I can, just easier on my outboard and rod guides. I still bank fish if it’s not going to get above 32 and just hope for the best, maybe build a fire 

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Lots of northern bass fishermen prefer to fish in the early afternoon during the winter since the water has had time to warm up.

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middle of the day for me

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I typically fish in the afternoons/evenings when the water temps peak. If I get three days of consistent, and unseasonably warm weather, I’ll fish before noon. But ultimately the later half of the day is the ticket. But for right now, even though the temps are touching the 30’s at night, I suspect the mornings to still be productive on my local water. Once December rolls around and and the real winter pattern has set in, that’s when I shift to strictly afternoon fishing. 

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Down here I prefer to be on the water early when it's "cold" 

i have a tournament on the St John's River this weekend where the low is expected to be in the high 40's low 50's. 

As it warms up those fish tend to do so also. 

 

However, if it's right after a cold front I'll stay in bed. 

 

 

Mike

 

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Agree it weather dependant. We bass fish year around and cold water here is around 50 degrees, morning air temps can be close to freezing. Couple of warm days and early morning dawn is usually good, dusk is usually better. Cold windy weather I am not getting up early in the winter!

Tom

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First light to dark thirty 😉

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I'm sure we all have opinions or experiences which leads us to favor certain times or conditions in the winter, but I'm going to throw my two cents in the bag here.....up in Michigan from October through December (with open water) I've found the majority of my bass are caught at the highest daytime temperature. So when I fish for fun in the winter, I like to look for the times when the temperature is peaking. For example today it just so happened that we had cooler morning low 40s , fair afternoon in upper 40s but a peak temperature of 51 or 52 degrees around 4pm. I found bass moving shallow into 1 to 3 feet of water at this peak temperature, they were bum rushing small bluegill in the reeds, but I was catching them while slow crawling a Texas rigged Yum Christie Craw on a clean bottom, before they reached the reed line. This probably varies greatly from region to region, but in Michigan I'm looking for the highest daytime highs, and then I'm more confident that some of these fish have become more active. Although conversely , over the years I've caught a lot of giants during the coldest times of the day, but it's almost always individual nomadic fish. It's still those high peak temps where I find the majority of bass becoming active. 

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Not sure if you want to count what we have down here as winter, but if the morning temps are 45 or below I wait until the afternoon.  If the afternoon temp is 40 to 45, but sunny with no wind I'll go for an hour or two.

 

Any colder than that, cloudy, windy, or rainy I'll probably stay home.  I've never had much luck on those days so I don't see any reason to stand outside in those conditions.

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I switch to fishing in the afternoon to sunset when morning temps are below 45.  My reason is simple, I do it for my own comfort.  I fish to relax and enjoy myself and I don't do that if I'm shivering 😄

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I get there as the sun is coming up and fish until late afternoon. My biggest bass of the year was on January 2nd in the morning hours. 

Image may contain: Clayton Westgate, smiling, sky, outdoor, water and nature

 

The temperature on that day?

 

TUE 1/2

 

Actual Temp

22° /-1°
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@Bluebasser86 And this is why I asked. A lot of people catch their biggest bass ever in the cold months and a lot of people miss out on the opportunity because it's not comfortable.

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I love the sun rises and sets all times of the year.  Sometimes it's not about the catching but the experience.  I do real well early on cold days....usually fish are deeper on the smallie lakes so temp I don't believe is a big issue....they like the shadows too.  Not to say you can't catch them on sunny banks...I do.  But it's an all day thing.  Have fished some brutal days where you dip the rod every other cast and the wind is blowing but they still eat.

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18 hours ago, the reel ess said:

do you start first thing in the morning as you would in the other seasons? Or do you wait for the sun to get high in the sky and warm up the top layer of water?

 

It looks like most of the responses that you have received so far are from northerners and not from southern guys as you requested. I happen to be from SC, so I'll throw in my two cents. BTW, I fish from the bank, not a boat.

 

The first thing that I consider is personal comfort. If it's too cold or too windy I just don't want to be out there.

 

But if it's not too cold or if I really just need to get out and fish for a while my first choice is to fish the smaller lagoons in the colder weather. With the smaller body of water the shallows seem to warm up sooner.

 

In the winter months, if I fish a lagoon two or more times and have no luck I usually cross that lagoon off my list for the winter. Why? First off, I cover every square inch of the lagoons that I can reach with my casts. If the fish are sitting in a spot I can't reach then odds are I won't be fishing the few times a day that they bass are cruising to the shoreline to feed.

 

The other reason is that in my area most of the lagoons are interconnected via the stormwater inlets and the bass may have simply moved to another lagoon for the winter. There are almost 300 lagoons in the community where I fish, so I cover a lot of ground and have a lot to choose from. Now if I could just remember to use the Anglr app and record everything I'd probably be more successful this winter.

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I go from first light to noon almost all year.

Since my kids are in their teens, they will sleep in on the weekends so I'm not missing out.

This way I have all afternoon and the evening for family and responsibilities.

 

I love being on the water as the sun comes up, however the wind is my enemy in the winter.

No matter how many layers under my 100MPH gear that wind still cuts a chill right thru me

 

 

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31 minutes ago, BassNJake said:

I go from first light to noon almost all year.

Since my kids are in their teens, they will sleep in on the weekends so I'm not missing out.

This way I have all afternoon and the evening for family and responsibilities.

 

I love being on the water as the sun comes up, however the wind is my enemy in the winter.

No matter how many layers under my 100MPH gear that wind still cuts a chill right thru me

 

 

Right! Windy cold and rainy cold are two conditions I won't be caught out in. I find myself looking for shade 3/4 of the year and sunlight the cold months. Last year I didn't have to worry much about cold because I was still kayak fishing in shorts in December. We have a cold rain coming Friday. That'll probably slow down the fall bite for a while.

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October 18th this year I went fishing. On the water at 7am fished till noon. Air temps around that time were 35-38 degrees with 15 MPH winds. I had on three layers that day.

 

8097-E3-EB-C5-C0-461-F-8337-3-C5880-BFCB

 

Got this girl at 10:15 am Made braving the temps and wind worth it.

 

Despite the temps I like to be out at first light. My bait choices change as the day progresses and the water has a chance to warm. Started out slow with jigs and deadsticking senkos to swimbaits and crankbaits in the early afternoon.

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Honestly in my personal experience the only thing you do by waiting until later in the day is losing time on the water when you could be learning and saving yourself the discomfort of the chilly weather. How ever contrary to most people if i know that we have a high pressure system where it is going to be sunny and cloudless most of the i am going to be out when the sun first rises in the morning. something about the winter time and first sun is magical, but that is just my experience. I will note however that both of my last personal bests 5lb 12oz. and 6lb 10oz  respectively came on a sunny January day about 2 pm on a weightless wacky rig fishing about a 12 foot deep rocky point. It was frustratingly slow but just letting that worm shimmy down slowly put around 7 fish in the boat in 30 mins.

Hope I helped!! 

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If the weather has been consistent and the lows are down in the 40's I will be out at first light.  Anything else and I will take my time and hit the water around mid-morning.

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I caught my pb on Dec.31st at around 11 in the morning. I dont usually get a strong bite in the winter at first light til 10 or so unless its been warm. And I get Lazy in winter except for hunting early in the morning. I salt water fish more though at first light in the cooler months, because its further away and we want to get our monies worth for the drive.

But for bass , I like starting anytime after 11 in winter.

That being said, fish gotta eat , and you sure as heck aint catchin any laying up in the bed !

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There's also something to be said to arrive at the boat ramp on a quiet cold morning (hopefully not much wind) and have it all to yourself.......whoooooohooooooo

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On 10/22/2018 at 9:56 PM, Goldstar225 said:

I switch to fishing in the afternoon to sunset when morning temps are below 45.  My reason is simple, I do it for my own comfort.  I fish to relax and enjoy myself and I don't do that if I'm shivering 😄

Same here, had a fishing partner that always wanted to be there at daylight in Winter... "Had"🤣🤣

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1 hour ago, Oregon Native said:

There's also something to be said to arrive at the boat ramp on a quiet cold morning (hopefully not much wind) and have it all to yourself.......whoooooohooooooo

There also something to be said about watching the sunrise on the water.  This is one reason why I like to launch before sunrise, I like to be on the water for this....

 

sunrise.jpg

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