Heat's the key to successfully finding and catching bass this month. The water temperature should be really cooling off this month, and during daylight hours, the bass often will move up from their deep-water haunts to their warm-water habitats.

Lake Ross Barnett near Mize is my choice for catching bass this January because it has plenty of good riprap for me to fish. At Ross Barnett, the bass generally don't hold in very deep water at any time of year.

The first warming days we have in January, or if the weather's cold and stable, the bass will move up on the riprap. Although you won't get a lot of bites this month, you'll catch nice-sized bass. You'll probably catch a 5- to 7-pounder, and I won't be surprised if you catch five bass this January at Ross Barnett weighing 20 to 25 pounds.

I'll fish the riprap at the dam first because there's probably 3 miles of dam riprap to fish, then the entrance into Pelahatchie Bay with its railroad riprap and the riprap at Highway 43. You'll find the deepest water and the most riprap in the lake at the dam.

There's also a marina area that will be holding bass. To successfully fish this region, put your trolling motor in the water, and cast and wind down the riprap.

Once you locate the places where the bass are holding, return to those sites during different times of the day. Often a school of bass will hold on those same locations on the riprap all day. You may find 60 to 75 yards of productive riprap and then have to start fishing down the riprap again until you locate another section holding bass.

I'll primarily be using a 1/2-ounce Mann's Stone Jig in black/blue, because it doesn't hang up on the rocks like other jigs. I'll fish this jig really slowly, crawling it along the bottom, so I can feel every rock.

In January, the bass usually hold right up against the bank and out into about 10-foot-deep water, which is relatively shallow at this time of year. Although you may get hung up using this tactic, you can expect to get quality bass bites. The hang-ups are worth putting up with to catch the bass holding in this area.

Also, getting hung up isn't really a big problem. You can sling-shot your line, often called popping your line, causing the jig to jump backwards and get free. I usually fish with a 7-1/2- to 8-foot rod, so I can reel down to the jig and punch it loose from whatever's holding it.

During January, I depend heavily on the solunar tables, which I've found fairly accurate, to tell me when the bass will be biting most actively. A severe cold front can change the bass's feeding times, but I catch the most fish by using the solunar tables.

Don't expect a bass, even when it's actively feeding, to jerk the rod out of your hand when it bites. Even a big bass this month may deliver only a slight tap on the line when it inhales the jig. As soon as I feel the slightest movement of the line, I'll set the hook hard and fast.

Nobody knows why bass prefer certain types of lures on some days and another kind on another day. However, I like to have two to three lures tied on when I'm fishing certain areas, like riprap. My second choice of lure after the jig will be some type of big thumper spinnerbait. I like the Mann's 1/2-ounce Classic with a chartreuse/white skirt and a single gold No. 5 Colorado blade.

I'll be crawling this spinnerbait back to the boat. I want to barely feel that big blade thump, just so I know it's turning. Since Ross Barnett generally is muddy in January, I want a brightly colored spinnerbait with a thumper blade to create a lot of vibration to enable the bass to find the bait.

My third choice of lure is a Mann's C-4 crankbait that's primarily chartreuse with either a black or a purple/black and orange belly. I'll be reeling this crankbait very slowly. The water temperature probably will be from the high 40s to about 52 degrees, which means the bass's metabolism will be slow. That's why working any of these three baits slowly and being patient will pay off.

I'll be fishing 17-pound-test Berkley Trilene fluorocarbon line with a Pinnacle rod and a Pinnacle 6:1 gear-ratio reel. I like a rod with plenty of backbone. Although I'm working my lures slowly, I prefer that 6:1 retrieve-type gear-ratio reel. Then when a bass bites, I can set the hook and get it into the boat quickly.

I'll have the other two lures tied on rods that are ready to fish, but I'll probably spend 75 percent of my time fishing the Mann's Stone Jig. I fish a jig year-round. However, in the winter months when the bass are sluggish, if you're lucky enough to pitch or drag that jig close to a bass, more than likely the bass will inhale the jig.