Hunting season is winding down and with the high number of contacts I am receiving it is obvious that many outdoor sportsmen are turning their efforts to fishing and away from feathers and fur.

Hunting season is winding down and with the high number of contacts I am receiving it is obvious that many outdoor sportsmen are turning their efforts to fishing and away from feathers and fur. Fortunately, in south Louisiana and south Texas our mild winters allow us to fish 12 months a year. Fishing in January requires the angler to make multiple adjustments depending on weather trends as it can be 68 degrees one day and 30 the next which obviously impacts fish behavior. I enjoy the challenge of winter fishing as cold weather doesn’t bother me very much and when you find the fish they can be bunched up tight and often in large numbers. South Toledo and south Rayburn are excellent winter areas as they have an abundance of clear, deep water which is ideal for winter patterns.

LAKE CONDITIONS: At mid-week the lake again moved over full pool with the reading of 173.10 feet which is over a foot above full pool which is 172 msl. Water temps are 53-55. There have been some changes as to water release at the dam with one generator running 24 hours but the change is no water is being released at the spillway(flood gates). The reason for the change probably is the heavy rain last weekend impacted the river below the dam and to minimize flooding downstream they shut down the spillway gates temporarily. After the rain effect is lessened I expect the spillway gates to be reopened and that will, more than likely, happen fairly soon since the lake level is over 173. North Toledo is heavily stained, mid lake is slightly stained and south Toledo is clear with feeder creeks stained in upper portions.

BASS/FISHING REPORT: As we have been doing for some time, our patterns have included both shallow and deep areas. During warming trends we fish more shallow patterns while we move deeper during cold periods. Also, for the most part, I fish slower as I fish deeper and make sure we cover all of the structure as it is easy to miss a school of quality bass as they group tightly during winter conditions. In winter shallow for me is usually no less than 6-8 feet with mostly 8-12 being the norm on Toledo. On Rayburn, I will move slightly more shallow. Deep patterns include depths from 15 to 40 depending on weather conditions. Fishing at these depths you have to have clear water. I would never fish these depths with stained water conditions.

Shallow patterns include Texas rigs with Bottom Hoppers (Berkley Havoc), Stanley Vibrashaft Spinnerbaits in 3/8 oz. with shad pattern shirts. In addition we are fishing jerk baits with Berkley’s Skinny Cutter and Pro Rouge running these on 10 and 12 lb. Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. I like fluorocarbon on jerkbaits as it helps to run the bait slightly deeper and to keep it down. In addition, Bill Lewis’s Rat-L-Traps are producing on shallow flats and humps with my favorite colors being Toledo Gold, Rayburn Red, White Crawfish and blue/silver. Our deep patterns include Stanley Bug Eye football jigs in ½ and ¾ oz versions in black/blue and green pumpkin.

We are also using Carolina rigs with Chigger Craws, Power Lizards and Berkley’s new lizard, Boss Dog. Our other deep patterns include Norman’s deep diving crankbaits, DD22 and NXS. We continue to use drop shot and spoons with success on tough days when some days the drop shot is the only thing that will get you bit. Our spoons include ½. ¾ and 1 ounce versions and our drop shot are in two versions including the conventional with 6 and 8 lb test and No.1 Daiichi wide gap, high carbon hook with a nose hooked Bottom Hopper Jr (4.75 inches). The other version is on heavier line and larger hooks and bury the hook making it weedless allowing the angler to cast it instead of fishing it only with a vertical presentation. Our deep patterns involve a wide variety of depths from 15 to 40 feet and it all depends on conditions as to where I engage my efforts.

CRAPPIE/YELLOW AND WHITE BASS: The crappie/white perch are slow with all the high water. Crappie guide, Jack Adams says crappie are slow. It looks like the Chicken Coop will not be a big deal this year with high, stained water conditions. Before the last big rain anglers were catching a few at The Coop but that has stopped completely. We continue to catch a few on spoons but only 3-4 a trip. We continue to catch Yellows, largemouth, spots on spoons and tailspinners but not the numbers we were catching last month. January on south Toledo is a transition month, especially the last part of the month, as the fish population begins preparing for the spawn and this factor is reflected in their movements. White bass are about to stack up on the northern part of the lake so contact Greg Craft at Huxley Bay if you want a white bass trip which is usually lots of action.

AUTHOR INFO: Joe Joslin is a syndicated outdoor columnist, tournament angler and pro guide on Toledo and Sam Rayburn. Contact him by email at and on his website at