Fishing in January is a dance with the whims of the weather fortunes. The days are starting to get longer, warmer weather is coming and the pieces of the angling puzzle will continue to shift. The fish's environment has been subjected to the accumulative chilling effect of the coldest season of the year. As a cold water creature, the metabolism and body temperature of our quarry are regulated by the surrounding environment. Cold water temperatures take the activity level, feeding frequency, and propensity to respond to the stimulus of feeding opportunity down several notches. The forage base of shad minnows, crawdads and miscellaneous small fish and insects are slowed by the same dynamic that they share with the predatory game fish. In chilly water, the fish will still feed and react to feeding opportunities and to your lures. They are less likely to move very far or very quickly. Consider that their normal food supply is not moving very far or very quickly either. A much smaller strike zone and less frequent feeding activity of the game fish challenge the catching part of the fishing equation, but with this challenge comes the benefit of a more stationary and predictable target. Choosing lures that can be fished slowly and deliberately gives the winter angler the opportunity to match the predator's expectation of minimal movement from their feed.
Winter condition lures that can fit this scenario include jigs, soft plastic worms or soft plastic assorted creatures as well as vertically jigged metal lures such as Kastmaster or Hopkins "jigging spoons". Lures in this category mimic the action of the shad or minnows that are distressed by the cold water, thus rendering them vulnerable, easy targets for the opportunistic predator. Current from running water can draw fish to shallow zones. Warm rainstorms that get nicknames like "Pineapple Express" can bring enough warmth to wake up some of the fish. Slower moving reaction bait lures that produce a throbbing wobble that fish can feel will sometimes draw strikes when weather adds some extra color or reduces water clarity. Large blade spinner baits and big lipped crank baits can be worth a try when the pieces of the puzzle fit. When visibility is diminished, fish may move to the definable edges of shoreline or structure to feel their way around their environment. Persistence and repeated casts can give the fish a chance to zero in on your offering. So if you have the urge to get out on the water, give this a try and adapt to the moment.
Updates from our local lakes:
Nacimiento launching from the main ramp is good. Lake level is 23% . Fred Kenyon reports from upstream that the river has begun to flow.
Lake Lopez and Lake Santa Margarita Are both at low level with hand launching from shoreline or beach depending upon weather conditions. If it is too muddy they close the area. If you plan to give it a try, call first. Decisions will be on a day-to-day basis. Be prepared to pass the quagga mussel inspection for any type of watercraft. Trout plants have been suspended until the big truck can get to the water. Bass and pan fish are still keeping anglers busy. Both parks are offering a $5.00 discount on Tuesdays through the winter.
If Santa didn't bring you a fishing licence, get one in case of an emergency.
Tight Lines ! -Rich Lingor