Catching bass in January is difficult. The fish’s metabolism has slowed down, and you won’t get numbers of bites. I’ve picked Bogue Homa because it’s a shallow lake, it homes creek channels and deep water, and most of the bass will be pulling into the creek channels in January, You still can catch some bass in the shallow water, but the bigger bass will be out on the creek and river channels.
Large bass do move into shallow water once a warm front arrives, especially places with old lily pad stems where they’ll spawn. The bass will be healthy, short and fat. I pay close attention to the Solunar Tables when fishing for January bass. I time my fishing trips to when the tables indicate the bass’s major feeding periods
Fish a jig in early January
I like a ½-ounce Mann’s Stone Jig in black and blue with a black and blue trailer and a green pumpkin jig and trailer. The bass usually will be feeding on crawfish in January, and these jig colors imitate crawfish. I’ll fish the jigs on a 7’7” heavy action FX custom rod with a 7.3:1 gear ratio ELS Bruin reel, spooled with 19 pound test White Peacock fluorocarbon line.
I’ll fish these jigs slower than slow by casting the jigs out, letting them go all the way to the bottom and inching them along the bottom. I’ll barely move my rod tip and pull that jig slowly to come over the top of any cover I encounter. I’ll fish the exposed root systems of stumps along the edges of the creek and river channels. You need to wear quality sunglasses, like my Wiley X ones, to see the dark spots under the water that are underwater stumps. The channel bank usually is in 2-3 feet of water and drops off to 7-8 feet of water. The bank will be 7-9 feet deep on some of the main river channels and drop off to 15-18 feet deep.
I’ll start off fishing the deep water main creek channel that runs and bends on the lower end of the lake. I probably haven’t fished the stumps with their exposed root systems there due to intense water skiing pressure in the spring, summer and early fall. The edges of the creek channels in this part of the lake receive very little bass fishing pressure during the warmer months.
Shaky head worm
I’ll also fish a shaky head worm slowly on spinning tackle with a 7’4” medium action FX custom rod and 15-pound test braided line with 6-8 feet of 10-pound fluorocarbon leader. My favorite worm is a 6” Mann’s June Bug Jelly Worm that I’ll fish slowly, as I have the jig.
I’ll still fish a shaky head worm on the creek channel bends on the lake’s deep end. I’ll barely ease the lure along the bottom but I do shake my rod tip to give the worm some action. The main ingredient for fishing the shaky head worm successfully here is to make sure the worm remains in contact with the bottom. I’ll ease the worm over any structure it comes in contact with along the bottom.
I’m expecting a reaction bite to one of these baits that gets right in front of the bass’s face. The jig pattern and the shaky head pattern on the lower end of the lake are the most productive during the first couple weeks of January.
Fish bladed jigs and lipless or rattling crankbaits the last two weeks of January
The lake may experience a warming trend in January for several days. I’ll go to the back of the east side of the lake where most of the lily pad stems are, primarily in 1-3 feet of water, if the lake experiences a warming trend. I’ll fish a 3/8-ounce bladed jig in black and blue colors or fire orange, slowly in those stems. A lipless crankbait or a rattling crankbait in either gold or red colors will pay off too with bass bites, and I’ll alternate fishing these colors.
The key to successfully fishing these three baits is to swim them slowly through the lily pad stems. Most of the time I prefer the bladed jig rather than the lipless or the rattling crankbait because I can swim the bladed jig much slower. I’ll fish the bladed jig on 30-pound bass braid on a 7’6” medium action FX custom cranking rod and use an 8:1 reel to keep the slack out of my line. I can crawl the bladed jig through the lily pad stems and bump them to get a reaction strike from the bass holding there.
Toward the end of January, the big females will pull up in those lily pad stems. You’ll have the opportunity then to catch some of the biggest bass of the year.
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