As I write this, it’s a toasty 26 degrees outside with a wind chill figure well below that.

As I write this, it’s a toasty 26 degrees outside with a wind chill figure well below that.


Makes one think about a bass fishing trip, doesn’t it?


Well, it should.


Because the last few days of January and the first few days of February — provided that weather and wind conditions are safe enough to allow for being on the water — can be one of the year’s top angling opportunities to wake up a giant Texas bass.


In fact, the first two months of the year can be to Texas bass anglers what the November and December whitetail rutting frenzy is to the state’s deer hunters seeking a buck with Boone & Crockett headgear.


For those wanting proof, cast a glance in the direction of the legendary 18.18-pound state record largemouth bass that Barry St. Clair caught on January 24, 1992 at Lake Fork as he was crappie fishing.


If you’re keeping score at home, that fateful catch was 22 years ago today.


For even more proof, please note that five of the state’s "Top 10" largemouths were landed during January and February, an exclusive lunker club that takes a weight of 16.77 pounds or better to even gain admission into.


What’s more, some eight of the state’s "Top 20" lunker bass weighing 16.02 pounds or better were caught during the same period of January and February.


Clearly, it pays to ignore the calendar and leave the warmth of the fireplace behind, to bundle up against the chill with Under Armour and Gore-Tex gear, to prepare a Thermos full of hot coffee, and to head out the door to go fishing.


Palestine’s Kelly Jordon, who has four B.A.S.S. wins on his resume to go along with one FLW Tour victory, is a big fan of wintertime angling, especially on his home water of Lake Fork.


You would be a big fan too if you had caught the stringer of wintertime bass that Jordon did a number of years ago on a Fork outing while fishing a Sassy Shad-style bait and a jigging spoon in 30 feet of water.


"I caught 10 bass that weighed 101 pounds," said Jordon. "That’s over a 10-pound per fish average. In fact, my biggest five weighed 54 pounds, 11 ounces.


"That’s the best stringer of my life."


That’s saying something since Jordon is a big bass guru with numerous double-digit fish to his credit and more daily big bass weigh-in honors than any other angler on the B.A.S.S. tournament trail.


Keep in mind, however, that such numbers of big fish are the exception rather than the rule during the winter months.


"It’s not a numbers time of the year, since the bass fishing is tough anyway at this time of the year," said Jordan, a nine-time qualifier for the Bassmasters Classic. "But if you do find them, they’re usually grouped up pretty good."


The trade-off for the lack of numbers is the scale-tipping weight and girth of these wintertime bass.


"This time of the year, the average size of fish IS bigger than any other time of the year that you’ll catch fish," said Jordon, who also competes regularly on the Major League Fishing circuit.


How do you go about catching these fish?


First, you’ve got to find them. Right now, that’s typically going to be in deeper water that is not far from where bass will move up in a few weeks to a spawn.


Next, toss the right lures in shad and crawfish patterns.


"Fish are looking for a big meal at this time of the year," said Jordon. "You’re using big fish baits like jigs, lipless crankbaits, slow-rolled spinnerbaits, and suspending jerkbaits."


Finding success with those lures in January and February most often requires a S-L-O-W lure presentation.


In other words, when you think you’re fishing slowly enough, slow down even more.


Jordon says that the idea is to get the bait into the fish’s strike zone, maintain it there as long as possible, and then give the lure just enough tantalizing action that the big bass can’t help but eventually react with a quick strike.


"You’re not fishing for a lot of bites and you’ve got to know that’s what you’re doing before you go," said the Texas pro. "You’ve got to be a little mentally tough.


"(But) you know that if you do get bit, chances are it’s going to be a pretty nice fish."


Which is all of the reason that an angler needs to head for their nearest big bass water, even if the first page has yet to be torn away from the 2014 calendar.