The best spot for catching bass in January is federally owned Turkey Fork Lake, east of Richton in Perry County. Restocked in 1994, this lake holds a number of man-made structures, 24- to 25-foot-deep water and a lot of lily pads in its back end. The lake's small size (240 acres) is one of the reasons I like to fish it in January.

You can go to the places where the bass should be this month, and either find and catch them quickly or pack up your rods and go home. But at this time of year, the bass you catch on this lake, while fishing slowly in the high-40s water temperature, will be quality bass that may weigh 4 to 8 pounds each.

In January, the three most-productive tactics on Turkey Fork Lake include fishing:

• the manmade structures - hardwood trees sunk in the lake - with a 1/2-ounce Mann's Stone jig;

• the lily-pad stems with a 3/16-ounce Mann's Stone jig, a Mann's C-4 crankbait and a Mann's Baby 1-Minus crankbait;

• the lower end of the lake near the dam with a suspended jerkbait.

Since the hardwood trees sunk in the lake aren't marked, you'll have to search for them with your electronics. Primarily, all the hardwood trees in this lake will hold bass during the winter months. Some are as shallow as 5 to 7 feet and as deep as 15 feet.

I'll back away from the trees and cast to them and work the jig really slowly around, over and through all the limbs. I want to try to pull my jig over every branch and then let it fall back down to the bottom.

Because the bass's metabolism has slowed in the winter, you have to make a number of casts to the same tree. I only expect to get one or two bites out of each tree, though occasionally you may find a school of bass holding on one tree. I want to work those trees from every angle and present my jig from every direction to try and locate the bass on that tree and make them bite.

I prefer a black/blue jig with a sapphire-blue trailer or a green-pumpkin jig with a green-pumpkin trailer. I'll be using a 1/2-ounce jig on 20-pound-test Berkley Trilene fluorocarbon line with a Quantum 6:1 gear-ratio and a Quantum PT 7-foot heavy-action rod.

I'll also fish visible trees like I do the underwater trees, except I make long casts to those trees from every direction and work them with my jigs. Then, I'll use my trolling motor as little as possible to get close enough to flip every foot of those trees. I'll use 30-pound-test braided line and my 6:1 gear-ratio reel, but I'll change my rod to a Quantum PT Tour Edition Greg Hackney Signature Series.

In January, speed isn't what you need. You really have to milk the cover, fish it slowly and deliberately and make sure that if bass are holding in these trees, they not only see your jigs, but they have the opportunity to eat them.

On a warm day, the bass may go to feed on the lily-pad stems in 2 to 8 feet of water. I'll start swimming a 3/16-ounce jig in either black/blue or green pumpkin through the stems slowly. Windy days and bright, sunny days when the water temperature warms in those shallow places are the best days for this tactic. I'll bump Mann's C-4 and Baby 1-Minus crankbaits into the more-shallow stems and not plow through them.

Baitfish move slowly in January, and you want to mimic the baitfish with your crankbaits. My crankbaits are shad color and chartreuse/blue back because those colors mimic shad and bluegills, which are what the bass are eating in January. I'll be fishing my crankbaits on 15-pound-test Berkley Trilene fluorocarbon line with a Quantum Tour Edition PT Paul Elias Signature Series rod and a 6:1 Quantum PT reel.

Before I leave Turkey Fork Lake, I'll go down to the dam and fish a suspended jerkbait that will get down to about 6 to 7 feet and suspend. Once I get the jerkbait down, I'll let it sit for 10 seconds before I move it. Then I'll twitch the jerkbait two or three times, and allow it to sit another 10 seconds. This technique should produce some really big bass here on Turkey Fork Lake during January.

I prefer to fish Turkey Fork in January because I can catch five bass that weigh from 5 to 8 pounds each in one day. Although in January the fishing is slow, and the weather can be cold, the pay-off can be that you'll catch some of the biggest bass of the year.

I expect to catch nine or 10 bass, with half of those weighing from 5 to 8 pounds.

So, this month, instead of going to the duck blind or the deer stand, take a day off from hunting and visit Turkey Fork Lake, because you may have one of the best days of fishing ever.