Finally the water is starting to get in the range I like for winter fishing. While the birds and shad are still plentiful, as the water gets colder shad tend to go deeper. Where the water is a little warmer the fish follow.


Right now fish are still likely to be found anywhere. But the migration to deeper water has started. Backs of protected coves with rock or sand, later on a sunny day, will still see soft and hard jerk baits work. Crank baits, like Bandits, Bill Norman and Bomber in shad patterns, and brighter colors if the weather is cloudy in 6-12 feet of water and around boathouses should be given a try.


If you are lucky enough to have access to a boat slip, crappie fishing is picking up. Blakemore Fishing Group has a great selection of crappie baits and accessories including Road Runners on their web site. Lindy Fishing Tackle also has a selection of Walleye and ice fishing jigs just the right size for crappie and will give our southern crappie a choice of some baits they haven‘t seen.


You can visit Lindy at (lurenet.com) to see their products. Local lure maker Jeff Foreman has a new selection of hand-tied crappie jigs. Whichever jig you are fishing, tipping them with crappie nibbles can improve your chances. Minnows are always a staple bait for these good eating fish but 12 of them cost more than a dozen eggs.


Catfish and hush puppies are high on the eating list down south. Catfish also move deeper with the cold and can be caught by fishing deep water in creeks and off steep rock banks. About the easiest way to get them on a plate is to fire up the car and visit one of the many excellent local fish restaurants.


If you are a do-it-yourself person fishing about anything that smells bad will work to catch them. When I do break down and fish for “Mr. Whiskers” I like Danny King’s punch bait. Serious kitty fishermen I know make their own secret mixes.


I got my boat back last Thursday and managed to squeeze in one fishing trip before the weather went south. I highly recommend Gary Stewart’s Boat Repair, who did my work. He made room for it inside his building during the cold weather until the part I needed came in from Houston. The prices are good and he knows what he is doing.


Friday morning I got on the water around nine. Elevation and lake temperature were a match for a couple of trips I logged in during past years. I ran to my first stop and gave it the old college try for about 30 minutes. I never got a bite. I moved to my second stop worked it for another 30 or so minutes, with maybe one bite or, I could have bumped a turtle — but no fish.


About to give up I went to my best place. I tied up and started fishing. About half-way back to the boat I got a tap set the hook and put a two-pound smallmouth in the boat. Fired up, I fished for almost an hour before I got another tap right under the boat — a three-pound black bass came to visit.


Two casts later under the boat again I set the hook and put another bass around four pounds in the boat. They all came out of the same depth water on the same baits I had recorded in years past. Going along with my article from last week I had the info to put something together that let me catch fish.


The super-cold weather got me a phone call from my backdoor cousin who lives out here. A backdoor cousin is a cousin of my cousin. “I need your help, I got a busted water pipe.” I dressed warmly in only old clothes since he said it was muddy. When I got there it reminded me of a Three Stooges movie minus Curley.


Seems he was digging around the frozen pipe and split a water line he didn’t know was under it. He said to look at the split and see how far it went. I think I was set up. Like a good Stooge I leaned over the pipe to see better. He cranked her on at full throttle and almost blew my Boggin’ off my head as well as irrigating my nose hair, washing my face — I almost needed resurrection, I mean respiration.


After I dried off we retired to a warmer place and had some beer as we plotted out how we was gonna fix it. When we finally did get it all put together, maybe we should have let the PVC pipe cement sit a mite longer in this cold.


Fifty pounds of pressure out of a one-inch pipe sprays a lot of water. It blew one of the fittings off and we were swimming again. There were a few more minor-major problems before we got it fixed. Did I say one of the Stooges cut one of the wires going to his auto sprinkler system before I got there? Life is fun at the lake.