"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Still Water Best For Cold Weather Angling
Copyright © 2007 by Bill Scifres

When fall--and early winter--fishing becomes the issue, I lean heavily on the things I have learned in the past, the most important being that one is infinitely more apt to have good luck in smaller standing waters--as opposed to running water (as in streams and rivers).
I always hedge a trifle by pointing out that fish will hit some in running water, but the bite will be less than spectacular.. 
Over the years, I have checked water temperatures in conjunction with fishing, and I have generally found that still water (that of small bodies of water that appear to have no current) stays warmish longer than moving water. That is conducive to many forms of aquatic life, including fish and food chain that sustains them. As the water cools, so does the metabolism of fish (a very deep subject), and the bite slows a bit. Still, the idea that fish go hungry through most of the winter is unadulterated hogwash. 
Fish do tend to hole up in winter, I believe, but they still take on some food. I once knew a pair of anglers who found a spot on our north Blue River where channel cats were schooled and killed them with frozen soft craws fished deep in the center of the hole. Incidentally, they said there was skim ice along the shores of the hole.
Ordinarily, though, when I think of wintertime angling my preferences ramble to farm ponds first, then to small watershed lakes (some of which are channelized by small streams) or even to pits of many origins. Even the big lakes (the flood control reservoirs) are higher on my list of potential winter angling waters than are streams and rivers.
Still, if I (must consider a stream or river for winter angling) I would opt for a slow moving, mud bottom rather than faster water with rock or gravel/sand bottom.
I have almost always scored better with slow moving deep lures (that would be plugs or plastic worms and lizards), but here again I am “one-upped” occasionally by an angler who tells me about taking fish on yellow spinner baits fished shallow. Sometimes I think it is six of one, half a dozen of the other, and fish, like many other of M.N.’s children are where you find them. They hit anything that looks like chow or catches their fancy.
There is one other factor involved--COVER. It doesn’t really matter whether it is natural or man made. It seems to me that I find fish around and under cover during the day when they are hiding from light (warmth). 

KY LICENSE--Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is the first to sign on for a program of the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) for a new direct mail marketing effort to help the states boost fishing license sales. They seem to be down some in a lot of states, including Hoosierland.
The program formulated by the RBFF is designed, says the RBFF, to help state agencies increase participation in fishing and generate a greater awareness of the connection between fishing license sales and the conservation effort. It is aimed at helping the state implement a lapsed angler recruitment program.

BLACKBERRY CANES--So you’d like to plant a blackberry patch at home. Well, if a home grounds blackberry patch is the thing that flips your cork, don’t plant anything (take my advice . . . or the advice of Rob Winks, assistant manager of the Division of Forestry’s Vallonia Nursery). Don’t plant or seed anything. Instead build a fence in summer where you want the plants. Let the birds rest (on the fence) and let them  “plant” blackberry seeds when this berry is ripe. Then you can take down the fence.
Excuse me, former singer, Dorothy Shay. I’m only suggesting “Doin’ What Comes Naturally.” Many seeds won’t germinate unless they have been ingested by a bird or animal.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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