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Chalk Talk: McClelland on cold weather

Mike On Weather

Photo by: B.A.S.S. / Seigo Saito - If you stay inside all winter, sipping coffee and waiting for warmer weather, you might be missing some of the best bass fishing of the year. That’s the opinion of eight-time B.A.S.S. winner Mike McClelland, who most recently won the first Central Open of 2017 on Table Rock Lake.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy. When McClelland talks about winter fishing, he’s referring to when it’s “bone-chilling cold,” and if you’re not prepared, you will suffer, you may get hurt, and you likely won’t catch many fish.

First, the Bass University instructor cautions that you’ll need to gear up properly. If he’s fishing alone, he’ll wear a Mustang inflatable PFD at all times. He wears insulated footwear and dresses in layers. Most importantly, he keeps an extra set of clothing on the boat in case he happens to fall in. No one plans on doing that, but you should plan as if it might happen.

Other than when fish are offshore in the heat of the summer, this is the time when McClelland relies on his electronics most. He uses Garmin units and trusts them completely, especially the Panoptix feature, which allows him to see 100 feet out in any direction. “Don’t start fishing in the winter until you locate what you’re looking for,” he said. That could mean bait, or bass, or even brush.

He focuses on high percentage areas like channel swings, bluffs and transition areas where the bottom composition changes. He’ll also look for dark surfaces, like dock floats, that hold heat. Finally, unlike other times of year when he often prefers long tapering points, during the winter the Ozarks expert likes shorter, steep points. Read more