This has to be the worst part of the year for me. Deer season has come and went and rabbit
season is over too. I have organized my tackle 10 times. My reels and rods have been cleaned
and are ready to respool. I have walked around my boat probably 100 times looking for
something to fix or clean. Ice fishing is ok and I will go partake a few times but it’s not really a
passion for me. Let’s face it, I like many of you, like being on my boat with a rod and reel
flipping and pitching. By this time of year many of us have not been out in a few months and
I am getting itchy. The following is a few places and things to do here in the next couple of
weeks and months that should produce some decent fishing opportunities.
Lake Michigan can be a dangerous lake to fish on but also a very rewarding one too. Weather
and safety is the main consideration when planning your fishing day on the Lake. On those days
though when the weather is mild or manageable the early season trout and Coho season is
awesome. Now when I say “weather is manageable” remember that is all relative to your
equipment and experience. The early season brown trout fishing is great. Catching browns
and Coho’s is pretty easy and there is lots of information out there for you to learn
how to target them.
Power plant lakes provide excellent opportunities to get out early and have some great bass
fishing. Let’s talk about a few of these lakes within easy driving distance. First on my list is
Newton Lake by Effingham, IL. This lake has two sides a “hot” side and a “cold” side. The hot
side is the west arm of the lake and at the far end has a warm water discharge from the
power plant. The water on this side up by the “bubbler” can be 70 to 75 degrees in December
and January. Even on the cold side the water will be in the 50’s. Newton has a 25HP motor
restriction which means that if you are going to run the gas motor it has to be a 25hp motor
or below. If you don’t have a 25 you can run a trolling motor. Now I have done that but would
not recommend it. Most times I have done this it didn’t turn out very well, yes you guessed it,
drained trolling motor batteries. Having said that the fishing can be absolutely awesome.
There is a lot of big fish in Newton and high numbers can be common on this lake. Watch
the weather and if its 40 up here chances are it will be 10-15 degrees higher down there.
The next place and certainly not the least is Turtle Creek south of Sullivan, IN. I have to tell you,
this is hard for me to do (tell people). In the early 90’s I spent many weekends on this lake.
This lake is also a power plant lake similar to Newton. One of the differences is that you can run
any size motor on Turtle but can only go 10mph. The other difference is that Turtle has been
down for several years. 100 fish days years ago at Turtle was not uncommon but due to
extremely high water temps the grass that used to fill the lake died. For several years
the spawning was down, way down. However, for the past couple of years the bass fishing
has come back and it’s not uncommon to have a 40 to 50 fish days early in the year. This
rebound is just starting to happen so you are hearing it here first. Turtle is a wood lake. By that
I mean the main cover in the lake is wood. Trees and laydowns are everywhere on Turtle. Use
caution when motoring around has you will run up on stumps and tree tops. The warm water
discharge is on the northeast side of the lake and is buoyed off. My recommendation is to start
at the upper end of the lake early in the year for the warmest water and better fishing. Turtle
Creek will open up on February 15th. For both lakes mentioned I suggest using a jig/craw trailer
in black and blue as well as green pumpkin and brown. Spinnerbaits, square bills and
rattle baits will all be tied on and laying on my deck.
Good luck and hang in there spring fishing is right around the corner!