As the days get shorter and the nights longer, waters begin to cool down. One secret to enjoying productive winter fishing is to get in the tailraces below dams. This tactic works all across the southeast during the cold months of December through February.
Start by checking the release schedule for current flow. Depending on the size of the dam, one or two turbines releasing water will be sufficient. If the floodgates are open due to flood conditions, stay away!
Make sure you have a good supply of jigs and trailers from Bass Pro Shops. You may lose a few. Black and blue with blue trailer or Peanut Butter and Jelly with Green Pumpkin trailer are two of my favorites. Be sure to use at least a half-ounce jig and 17-pound test fluorocarbon line.
You will also need a 36-volt trolling motor fully charged if the water is swift. Launch your boat and move upstream to a safe distance from the turbines -- about a quarter of a mile below the dam should be fine. Put your trolling motor down and start a backward drift, using the trolling motor to keep the drift straight and slow. Pitch or cast your jig into the eddies along the riverbank and keep pressure on the line as the current washes it downstream. Sometimes, you may need to drift a mile or so on both sides of the river until you find the area the fish are using.
This type of fishing requires you wear warm clothing and a Coast Guard-approved flotation device. Never go alone while fishing swift current!
Done correctly, this type fishing can pay off in a big way. During recent Bassmaster Classics on the Coosa River, several of the pros -- including Gerald Swindel and Randy Howell -- used this approach to fill their live wells.
Keep a tight line and a sharp hook,
BASS PRO SHOPS FISHING TEAM