It is Never Too Cold to Go Fishing!

December 24th, 2009 | by admin |

    When weather conditions are bad outside, I sit inside with a roaring fire and remember the time when I was brave enough to tackle the elements, hitch up the boat and head for the river.  The lousier the winter weather, the better the fishing for sauger on the Tennessee River.

    Down here in the south we call sauger, “jack salmon”.  As a kid, fishing on the river below Guntersville Dam, I never knew there was such a thing as a sauger until I grew up and read a copy of Field & Stream magazine, and for the first time saw a picture of the fish they called a sauger.  I thought they were confused!

    Last year on a dreary, cloudy, cold and miserable morning at daybreak, my brother and I drove down highway 421 from Huntsville, Alabama to the Guntersville dam.  As rotten as the day was, the parking lot just above the launching ramp was filled with cars and trucks with a boat trailer connected to each.  We immediately knew the jacks were biting.

    We put the boat in the water about a half mile west of the dam. If I thought I was cold before, I was shocked at how frigid it became as I was zipping down the river at forty miles an hour in the morning fog.  About six miles later, we rounded a bend and as if by magic we ran out of the fog and almost banged into group of at least twenty boats congregated up and down a narrow passage close to the mouth of the Paint Rock River.

    The water here was 30 to 40 feet deep where we anchored the boat.  Every few minutes one of the other fishermen would pull in another fish.  Most of the ones being caught were in the 2 pound and under class, though larger ones occasionally were being hauled into boats up and down the river.
    My brother was frantically trying to get his tackle together and start fishing.  I was too cold to think of anything other than grabbing the Thermos and pouring myself a cup of hot coffee.  When I  left the house that morning I thought that my brother and I were the only insane people in Alabama, now I was looking at a whole river full of nutty folks!

    Saugers tend to congregate around eddy pools such as those coming out of a tributary like the one we were close to that morning.  They are cylindrical fish, light brown speckled, with a couple of dark blotches on their sides. They have two dorsal fins as well as a mouth full of sharp teeth that will lacerate a finger if you are not careful.

    In my opinion the jack salmon, as I grew up knowing it, is one of the best tasting fish I have eaten out of southern waters. While the annual spawning run is in April or May, thousands of these tasty fish congregate in the tail waters of the Guntersville Dam, Wheeler Dam and Wilson Dam in earlier months.

    Like most of the fishermen I could see, I was also using a heavy jig tipped with a live minnow.  The jigs head was a fluorescent red with a three inch blue haired skirt.  After dropping the rig overboard, I pulled the bait about a foot off the bottom and was reaching for my coffee cup when I felt a tug on the line.

    I reeled in a two pound sauger just as my brother had one on also.  Within a couple of hours we had several good sized fish, and then a late morning sun drenched us with welcomed warmth.  The fish stopped biting for us as well as the other boats on the river.

    I have been trying to out think fish for years.  Counting the amount of time and money I have spent fishing, it is apparent that the fish have been winning.  Of all the things I have learned is, I still do not know why the sauger population on the river bites better on the most miserable of days, but I have a theory.

Bob Alexander


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  1. 11 Responses to “It is Never Too Cold to Go Fishing!”

  2. By Big Sam D on Jan 7, 2010 | Reply

    Will fish bite when the weather is cold?
    I love to fish but I have never been fishing when the weather was under 75 degrees. Well it’s cold in South East Texas right now. I still want to fish on weekends. Will the fish bite and is there a different technique to use in colder weather? I like salt water fishing from a peer for trout in Galveston Texas.

  3. By Balla on Jan 7, 2010 | Reply

    They will bite, but it will be slower. If you are fishing with lure’s you will want to change to vertical lure’s such as jigs or spoons. If you are using live bait in galveston you will have to get on the fish as they are lethargic and won’t travel as far or expend as much energy to eat. I would recommend live shrimp or cut bait
    References :
    Galveston veteran

  4. By Kristine on Jan 7, 2010 | Reply

    here in WA state they do. we usually fish for salmon or sturgeon though. we do some trout fishing but only in the spring. Spring were I live it gets 75 degrees TOPS LOL good luck.
    References :

  5. By christianabradley on Jan 7, 2010 | Reply

    In VA, we’ve been catching smallmouths on crankbaits in water as cold as 40 degrees. Crappie bite really well in cold water too. Small grubs on jigheads work well for crappie around here. they are a lot of fun to catch. my brother and i have cracked ice with the boat on the river to get to crappie. seems like it can never get too cold for them.
    References :

  6. By jason on Jan 7, 2010 | Reply

    they will but not as frequent as when its warmer. i would suggest checking a farmers almanac or check the internet for best fishing days
    References :

  7. By Brandon W on Jan 7, 2010 | Reply

    Yes. If its overcast they will more than likely be in deeper water. If its sunny they may be in shallow water feeding. Slow down your technique a little a try to find deep water structure
    References :
    Florida Fisherman

  8. By MR. T. on Jan 7, 2010 | Reply

    Some species prefer colder temps.
    some do slow down quite a bit and slower presentations are needed.
    75 degrees is not cold for fishing.
    People up north cut holes in ice and fish all winter!
    References :

  9. By AIRFLOW on Jan 7, 2010 | Reply

    of course you’ve just got to take your time with them and fish a little slower than you might normally fish for them, take your time with a large bait fished deep.
    References :

  10. By Joanne D on Jan 7, 2010 | Reply

    I’ve caught trout in 35 degree weather before, so they must bite when it’s cold.
    References :

  11. By Snipergurl S on Jan 7, 2010 | Reply

    Of course the fish will still bite in colder weather. Take for example, Ice fishing!! Some of the largest fish are caught when there is ice on the lake.. and why is this?? because you can get out to the middle of the lake where majority of them are hiding and fish for them… during the colder weather, the food supply is scarce for fish. Anything that enters the water that looks edible to them is fair game. The perch up here in Canada go wild for corn and other bright objects.. and then of course when there is movement in the Perch, the Pike, and I mean large pike, are on the prowl as well… I’m not sure what you have in the waters down there, but from experience up here, cold weather fishing is most often times more beneficial than the summer months!!!!!
    I like either hard water or open water fishing.. it’s all good fun to me!!
    References :

  12. By PETER J on Jan 7, 2010 | Reply

    by cold you mean ice fishing…. drill a hole in the ice, drop bait on a hook and wait yes they do. just slow down your presentation, scale down the size of the bait or lure and use lighter line 8 or 6 instead of 10 or 12, and try for deep pools the warmest water , when ice fishing, is at the bottom of the water column. if it is not iced over, the entire water column is open for fishing
    References :
    "in-fisherman" tv and magazine

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