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  • Tips for Winter Fishing

    Itís that time again! The winter fishing season on Lake Norman has begun. Some might be surprised to learn that cold weather affords some of the best fishing of the year. The reason is simple. As temperatures cool, the metabolism of fish slows, and causes them to hole up in the same places for much of the season.

    While the majority of anglers hole up too, by a television watching football, the hardier ones are on the lake catching the lionís share of fish. In order to do so, they must be prepared for the cold, wind and inclement weather associated with wintertime.

    The biggest challenge is staying warm. That is why moisture wicking under garments, wool/flannel shirts, sweaters, fleeced vests and hunting socks and boots are standard attire. Add to that, a Gore-Tex hooded parker and bibbed overalls, a hat and water proof gloves, and your body will be protected on most blustery days.

    Wind is the biggest enemy when winter fishing, particularly when itís howling from the north. To counter some of its sting, some boats are rigged with canvas and plastic curtains. This type of encapsulation, so to speak, works well for those trolling or anchored, but can be a hindrance when casting. Savvy anglers use a flameless catalytic heater to warm their face and hands. Care should be taken when any type of heater is used.

    The cold also takes a toll on the boat, motor, gear and tackle. Some of the most frequent issues can be avoided by doing a little preventative maintenance. Begin with battery checks and upkeep for both the towing vehicle and the boat. For boats, consider replacing batteries over two years old. In addition, inspect dock and anchor lines for signs of chaffing. And finally, check fluid levels for motors and outdrives. For inboard engines, be certain the temperature in the engine compartment stays above freezing.

    As far as fishing equipment is concerned, lubricate rods, reels and line with Real-Magic. It not only eliminates squeaks, but keeps fishing line and rod guides from freezing. White lithium grease is perfect for deck latches, hinges, battery terminals and trolling motor shafts. And, to assure good conductivity of the boatís electronics, disconnect and lubricate connections with an electrical component spray.

    Tips from Capt. Gus! To prevent the boat dock ramp from freezing, sprinkle it with driveway salt the night before a fishing trip.

    Hot Spots: Water temperatures are ideal for bass, hybrids and crappie Ė one of the biggest reasons fishing has been so good lately. Look for surface feeding spotted bass, hybrids and white perch under diving sea birds in Reed, Mountain and Stumpy Creeks. When the birds arenít there, bass are hitting Alabama rigs cast to points and docks and trolled along the edges of channels. White perch are hitting minnows and Sabiki rigs. Crappie fishing is very good near bridges and submerged brush piles.

    Gift Idea: The GOLFCATô Catalytic Heater fits in most drink holders and operates with a 16.4 ounce propane cylinder for up to seven hours. The MSRP is $89.99. For information visit: www.coleman.com .