January is a good month for fishing riprap at Ross Barnett Reservoir. Those rocks capture heat from the sun and transfer it into the water, so baitfish and bass will hold close to riprap.
And I like fishing the riprap at Ross Barnett because I like to catch bass. If I catch eight to 10 good bass a day in January, I’ve had a really good day.
Most of the time the bass will weigh 1 ½ to 2 pounds, but I might catch a 3- or a 4-pounder.
Three main sections of Ross Barnett have riprap: as you go into Pelahatchie Bay, inside the main harbor marina and at the dam.
Fish dam riprap
I’ll bet on dam riprap for finding and catching bass during January. You can fish successfully for at least half a day there.
I’ll fish parallel to the bank with a square-billed crankbait like the Mann’s C-4 in a crawfish red color, reeling the C-4 slowly close to the rocks on the shoreline while fishing parallel to the riprap.
As the crankbait comes back to the boat, I’ll bump it off the rocks in the mid- to high 40-degree temperatures.
The bass won’t be feeding actively.
In January, bass will feed during the day, and then you might fish a long stretch of water where you don’t get any bites.
I like my Pinnacle Square Bill Cranking Rod with a 6.4:1 Pinnacle Cranking Reel with 12-pound-test Trilene 100 Percent fluorocarbon line.
If the square bill isn’t producing, I’ll pick up a medium-diving crankbait, like a Mann’s 15+, a Deep Little N or a Wiggle Wart, on another rod and start casting in deeper water. These baits run at least 6 to 8 feet deep as I’m casting parallel to the bank.
I still like the crawfish red color.
Do the jig
Next I’ll cast a 3/8-black-and-blue Stone Jig with a blue crawfish trailer, although the jig will get hung up in the rocks. I’ll fish slowly by casting straight to the rocks and dragging the it down the rocks — not parallel to the rocks.
I expect most of my bites to come from the shoreline out to about 6 or 8 feet deep, and I have my boat sitting in 15 to 18 feet of water.
I’ll be looking at my depth finder. If I see balls of shad between 10 to 20 feet deep, I’ll move my boat farther from the rocks and let my jig get deeper into the water.
The bass will be positioned somewhere around or below those balls of shad.
If I don’t feel like I’m catching the number of bass I need to with the crankbait or the jig, I’ll start fishing a shaky head worm.
Shake ’em out of the rocks
I like a straight 5-inch Mann’s finesse worm in the green pumpkin color while fishing the shaky head slowly. I’ll expect to get hung up, but will fish the shaky head the same way I fish the jig — casting it perpendicular to riprap and bringing it straight back to the boat.
Many times, when bass won’t attack a moving bait like a crankbait or a crawling lure like the jig, they will take the shaky head. In January, the bass are looking for an easy meal because their metabolism has slowed down.
Often the bites you get on a shaky head will be extremely light. You might not even feel the strike, but just see your line moving off to one side of the rod tip. So it’s important to watch your line carefully.
Fish the stems after a warm front
If this area has warm fronts in January, I’ll fish inside Pelahatchie Bay and above Highway 43 in the lily pad stems. I’ll switch to a Baby 1-Minus crankbait or a ChatterBait around the lily pad stems, moving the bait slowly. I’ll let the baits hit and bounce off the lily pad stems.