Hey folks, it’s that time of year again! Time to drag out the insulated underwear and put the heater on the boat. If you don’t like the cold, best stay home and poke the fire ‘cause I can guarantee you, it ain’t gonna’ be comfortable when you get on the boat. This is probably the only time of year I don’t suggest taking young kids to the lake. If the bite is slow, you could make them loose interest in fishing all together. If you do, please make sure to dress them warm and have a heat source on the boat. Even though this may be the most uncomfortable fishing of the year, it’s usually the most dependable for putting a good mess in the live well. On Fontana, I can usually about guarantee a catch on the spotted bass and smallmouth. Yellow perch are usually in the mix this month too with some of the best sized you will see all year. You are probably gonna’ have to slow your presentation down and really be paying attention because the bites aren’t gonna’ be hard. I love watching the fish finder and dropping live minnows to them, but you can catch them a good variety of ways with both live and artificial. Another good tip is, if you aren’t seeing fish and you have been catching in a certain area, drop all the way to the bottom. Sometimes they lay so close to the bottom they don’t show up on the screen. Depths can vary so try all the way against the shoreline too.
If you are out on a windy day, be sure to check the side the wind is blowing against first, as a lot of bait can get pushed into these areas. Also, the backside of points on the main channel will usually hold good numbers of feeding fish. If your patient, usually your gonna’ find a pattern; just pay attention when you do catch a fish and usually you will figure them out. Stay safe and when it warms a little, take a kid fishing!
Ronnie Parris is owner and head guide of Smoky Mountain Outdoors Unlimited-Fontana Lake Fishing Guides, headquartered in Bryson City, N.C., heart of the Great Smoky Mountains www.smounlimited.com; (828) 488-9711.