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Cold weather means big fish

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Mike Sweeney sports fishing

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By Mike Sweeney
Columnist

Saturday, February 2, 2019

I know a lot of anglers like to sit and watch fishing shows this time of year but the die-hard guys know that this time of year is when the big bass are on the prowl.

When I say big bass I mean over 8 pounds so for most of you it means a personal best to say the least.

In the winter time the big females are growing bigger getting ready for the spawn and their bellies are growing every day.

In order to get big, they need energy so now is when they really need to put on the feed bag.

The problem is the weather can be so unpredictable that most anglers just stay home, but if you can put a couple of warmer days together with some sun then you can catch the biggest largemouth of your life if you want to put in your time.

You are looking for a typical warm period that happens this time of year when the sun shows up for a little then you want to scout out the north banks of the rivers or ponds.

The reason for this is the sun is lower in the sky during the winter and faces the north banks in a more direct angle thus warming that side of the water sooner than the other side of the water way.

It may only be a couple of degrees but that is enough to get the fish active and chasing baitfish.

During these periods there are few baits that will pay off but cranking is my number one bait in the cold weather.

It may be a square bill, deep diver or a Rattle Trap but I am always throwing a bait that I can control the speed of the retrieve and when I pause the bait it will remain neutral in the water column or rise slowly.

When I throw the bait I am always just within reach of the bank with my longest cast then I burn the bait when it is shallow the slow down when I hit deeper water.

This retrieve will allow me to cover from shallow to deep and tell me when the fish hits where they are and then I can concentrate on that particular depth.

Once I find the magic depth then I can move parallel to the bank and present my bait in the hot zone for the next fish.

I have found fish in less than 5 feet of water and in as deep as 20 during this time of year so make sure you hit the water with what you need as far as baits go and if you have more than one rod you can match the line diameter with the lure so you can keep the bait where it needs to go.

These small details is sometimes what is needed to make a day or break it.

You don’t get a chance to get out very often during this time of year but when you do make sure you give yourself the best chance to catch a giant.

What’s biting, where...

The offshore fleet has been slow this week with little to report except one lucky boat who caught a sailfish.

Last weekend the tuna bite was decent but since then it’s been slow.

On the beaches and piers it is mostly dogfish and skate but they had some drum at the point here and there.

The problem is that there is not a lot of people fishing right now so the reports are a little slim.

Locally we have been on a crappie bite that doesn’t seem to be slowing down any.

The fish are mostly in the creeks in about 12 feet of water but some days they move shallow and gather on bushes while others they suspend.

The striper bite has also been good on the Pasquotank with Captain Jeff Onley telling me that limits are almost every day on Rattle Traps.

Not only that but the fish are good size with some fish over 24 inches long so that’s good news for Elizabeth City crew.

If anyone gets out this week make sure you send me a report and some pics to fishingwithmike921@yahoo.com or hit me up on Facebook at Fishing with Mike.

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