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J.B. Webb — Cold-water bite is on before meeting a woodpecker

Herald Democrat

Well, you have heard or read about how I had been waiting on cold weather to set in; It’s here. Tuesday and Wednesday I hit the lake early. I was greeted by 45-degree water. That’s a good starting point.

I like it a little colder and it should be in the 30s before long. Now bass aren’t the only fish that bite in this cold water — stripers and catfish love it too, especially the big catfish.

Texoma is known for turning out some big cats. A few years ago a 123-pound blue cat was caught at Hagerman. Last year at the Cat Masters fishing tournament held at the Choctaw Events Center in Durant, there were a lot of big kitties coming to the scales.

This year they are coming back to the Choctaw Events Center this weekend. There will be a lot of vendors showing off their wares, including a man with a big glass demo tank of catfish. His trained dogs will be there putting on a show as well.

There will be seminars on making you a better cat fisherman, new catfishing gear and secret catfish bait to look at. There is a $5 entry fee.

Stripers have moved deep and dead sticking and big slabs are working. If you find birds working in coves, try a 5-inch or 4-inch Sassy Shad type lure or YUM Money Minnow or Mud Minnows with a 1- 2 oz. lead head Jig. This time of year, a good graph is a must.

This past Tuesday and Wednesday I was on the lake and didn’t have a lot of company. I wonder why. I only saw one striper boat. In a couple of hours on Tuesday I caught a big smallmouth bass and two more almost as big. All three came from one of my milk run stops.

They all hit a White Blakemore 3/8 oz Road Runner in 23-29 feet of water. I had a White 3.5 inch YUM Pulse plastic Swim Bait with a dipped Chartreuse Tail and sprayed with YUM Shad Fish Attractant, slow rolling it. Wednesday I ran out for an hour to fish and play with my Garmin graph. In the same spot on my second cast I caught a big spotted bass. It was white and didn’t fight much.

The water was cold enough to send the bass down deep; the fish was also as cold as ice when I grabbed it. Letting it go, I fished only that spot for a while longer but not another bite. It started sprinkling rain so I fired up Tombstone and went to our cove. If there had been anyone down there watching they would think I’d had one snort too many of Crown.

I turned and ran over some brush, went around in circles and off in all conditions. I love this new unit: no matter how I foul up all I’ve got to do is push the return button and it goes back to where I started and erases my boo-boos. It is so much easier than my Lowrance Elite 7 Chirp Hook. I’m probably going to put that up for sale.

A perk of living at the lake: Wednesday about 7:30 a.m., Ginger and I were on her morning ride. For some time, people along the lakefront have been talking about this big red-headed woodpecker they've seen.

When Ginger and I stopped the golf cart and got out at Buzzard Roost, I saw this big red-headed woodpecker working over a dead oak tree. He was big as a crow; the female was setting in another tree and she was almost as big.

While Ginger read the paper, I watched the woodpeckers until they flew off into the woods. I came home and looked it up in our bird book. According to the book this was a pileated woodpecker. Their range is just inside us on the east side of Texas.

The book says this species is fairly common, unlike the ivory-billed woodpecker that looks almost like it but is already close to, if not already, extinct.

The woodpecker we have out here is 16-19 inches long. The female is a little smaller. The birds are seen every now and then and would make a good hunt for birders to get their pictures.