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After a deep freeze, it's back to the waters

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Mike Sweeney sports fishing

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By Mike Sweeney
Columnist

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The past few weeks has been one for the ages, the ice ages that is and with the water thawing out we finally have a chance to get out and find some fish.

When the ice melts it can be a good time to get out.

The melt seems to turn the fish on and I have always had good luck right after the thaw.

For largemouth they seem to travel shallow in the creeks especially and if you can find a little current moving on the north side of the banks then that is usually a good place to start.

The baits you want to start with should move slowly like jigs, spinner baits and small square bill crank baits.

I also use a hard body jerk bait like a Smithwick Rogue which suspends when paused.

I like to throw these baits up current and parallel to the bank.

I will bring the bait down with a couple of turns of the reel then use my rod tip to twitch the bait and pause it.

The cadence is a twitch, twitch pause and repeat with a prolonged pause in colder water and shorter when the water warms up later in the day.

This pause or delay is deadly on largemouth especially in cold water and when the fish are suspended but don’t leave out the shallow fish.

They will come off the bank and strike the bait also and if you suspect that is what is happening then throw a spinner bait or the square bill up on the bank and slow roll it back to the boat.

If you are fishing from shore then throw it up the bank and bring the bait back as close to the shore as possible running parallel to the shoreline.

Don’t be afraid to run the bait next to the ice if there is some there and just beneath the surface.

For stripers you want to troll the same way as you did before the freeze but you want to slow the troll down to a crawl if you boat will allow it.

I usually drag my baits around 4 mph or so but if I can keep it around 3 I will.

The melted ice seems to turn on the stripers for some reason and if you can get out just when the ice breaks you will get more bites.

Troll multiple lures that run different depths till you find the sweet spot and try to keep it there.

Now is when they school up so when you catch one mark the spot and hit it till they stop biting then go find another spot.

It is not unusual to go an hour or so without a bite then score a limit off of a single piling or stump.

I have even stopped the boat and cast to the structure and caught my fish sitting still like largemouth fishing casting swim baits and jerk baits.

Striper fishing can be exciting this time of year if you dress warm and head out just after the ice breaks so lets get out there this weekend and find them.

What’s biting, where...

The fishing reports for this past week has been a big ZERO for obvious reasons but the beach has had some diehards get out when it warmed up and the puppy drum are still at the southern beaches if you dress for it.

Waders are a must and since we have no fresh bait the only thing they are hitting is shrimp and Gulp baits cast in the surf.

The drum season this year has been one for the record books and the fact that they are still around doesn’t surprise me one bit.

Here in our area we are still waiting for the thaw but it will happen by this weekend so if you get out like I am going to 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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