January often is a hit-or-miss month for bass fishing because the weather changes so much and the water temperature's the coldest it will be the entire year. During the first half of January, the bass will be in their winter pattern. However, often during the last two weeks of January, the bass will start moving into those shallows and have spawning on their minds.
January's winter pattern
Concentrate your fishing on the creek channels the first two weeks of January. Your electronics will play a major role in your success in pinpointing those creek-channel bends where the bass usually stack-up. One of the most-productive creek channel bends in the lake is just out from the lake's main office. The bend makes an almost 90-degree turn, goes toward the concrete dam and homes a number of big stumps, besides providing some of the deepest water on the lake. The water will be 7- to 8-feet deep on top of the underwater bank, and the bank drops off to 18- to 20-feet deep.
My favorite lure to start with is a Mann's ½-ounce Stone Jig in black/blue with a black/blue-flake Mann's HardNose Craw as a trailer. This HardNose Craw has a very subtle action, and I'll drag the jig slowly across the bottom. The pincers on the HardNose Craw are very thin, so the smallest movement through the water will cause them to wiggle. If you hold the boat in deep water, cast up on top of the drop and reel the jig very slowly over the lip of the break on a free line and as vertically as possible, you want to be able to feel every stump and every root that that jig goes over.
Generally the bass will take the jigs when they're falling vertically. I'll be fishing 15-pound-test fluorocarbon on a 7 1/2-foot light flipping rod with a 6.4:1 gear-ratio Pinnacle Optimus reel. The bass usually will be holding on the creek-channel side of the stump or the root.
Bass will be searching for easy meals that they don't have to spend much energy getting. I'll put five black 4-inch Mann's HardNose grubs rigged Texas-style (weedless) on the Alabama Rig, each with a 1/4-ounce jig head. When I cast the Alabama Rig out, I'll reel it slowly and let it crawl along the bottom. Once I hit a stump, I'll pull the rig over the stump and let it fall down into the creek channel. Using those 4-inch grubs, you can catch just about any fish in the lake, including catfish and crappie.
For casting the Alabama rig, I use 50-pound-test UltraCast FluoroBraid line with a 7-foot 11-inch heavy-action flipping rod with a 6.4:1 Optimus reel. I'll fish the Alabama Rig just like I do the jig, except I'll keep it steadily moving until it comes over a stump. Then, I'll let it fall. If I don't get a bite before the Alabama Rig hits the bottom, I'll continue the retrieve.
At this time, the bass will start moving out of the creek channels as the surface temperature of the water warms up, into the most-shallow water they can find. In the back of Lake Bogue Homa, the water weeds will have begun to grow. You'll also see some lily-pad stems and occasionally a lily pad. The bass love to move up into the stems and that new-growth water vegetation. They have spawning on their minds.
The best day to fish at the end of January will be a warm, cloudy day, and you'll catch bass on black or black/yellow buzz baits, once the water temperature reaches 52 to 55 degrees. I like a ¼-ounce buzz bait or a ¼-ounce walking lure. I'll fish these two lures on 20-pound-test fluorocarbon with a 7-foot, 1-inch graphite rod and a 7.3:1 gear-ratio Optimus reel.
Since Bogue Homa is entering its fourth year after being restocked, most of the bass will weigh from 1½ to 4 pounds. However, the lake is starting to produce some 5- to 6-pounders.