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Winter Fishing???
Dean Knight

Why would I want to go fishing during the winter months? I have asked myself that question many times. It makes no sense to go fishing, get cold and catch two or three small fish. I have heard about the “winter bite”, top water bite and on and on. I’ve heard so many fish stories I just did not want to go. Even when I heard about a guide saying for us to come fish now as the bite is on, I still did not have a desire to go. I have been on so many of these “bite is on” trips I don’t even want to hear that statement again. You’ve heard the story. “Joe says the fish are going crazy at xyz cove on Zzzz Lake and they are literally taking the hooks, line and sinkers. Well, you get there and spend the day fishing for one or two bites and you go home tired and frustrated. Frustrated mostly because you knew better than to go in the first place.

Well here we go. Chuck justice, a well known fishing guide had told my friend Greg that he would call when the winter bite was on and that we needed to get down there then. I kept telling Greg that I was not sure I wanted to go because I did not want to waste the day, be cold and worn out for a couple of fish. These trips usually end up at the end of the day with stories and no fish. I have heard all of the excuses I did not want to be part of the story.

Greg finally talked me into going on this “winter bite” trip to McGee creek. We headed out at 5:00 in the morning to arrive at 7:15 and on the water at 7:30. I thought to myself on the way down I should still be sleeping in my warm bed and here I am up, cold and 100 miles from that warm bed. All of this for a promise of catching fish. I knew better than to do this but I went along anyway. Away we go, fishing and drinking coffee. I look at my watch and it is 9:30 and we had boated two or three fish and we were moving to a new spot. I thought in my mind here we are again, part of another fishing story, something along the lines of no fish being dumb enough to be up eating with it this cold and fish don’t drink coffee. Why are we doing this I keep asking myself? I kept wondering what kind of story Greg would have at the end of the day when we were headed home with no fish.

Third time is the charm so they say. On our third spot chuck said that we would find the fish here or one other spot and was he ever right. We were using a silver spoon of special design and we would cast in different directions trying to locate the fish. Well all hell broke loose to say the least. We found them. Greg had a nice fish on as his rod was bent double. I was watching him and turned and looked at my rod tip and it was going crazy, I set the hook and the fight was on. We both have nice fish coming our way and bang... Chuck has a fish on. We are on a triple. First time ever for me. I have heard the stories but now I have seen it with my own eyes. We all landed our fish and the smallest was over three pounds. That was 10+ pounds of fish on three casts! No sooner did I get my fish back in the water and Greg had another fish on. I cast again but in a little different direction and waited for the spoon to hit the bottom. Well it never got there as I had a serious hit, hook set and crank, crank, crank. We both had fish again over three pounds each. Chuck had not cast again, as he was positioning the boat. Five cast, five fish and a winning stringer in most tournaments. Hey, this was beginning to be fun.

I started to count the number of times that I had cast and had actually boated a fish. Five, six, seven and not a fish under three pounds. Seven consecutive cast and seven fish boated. If someone told me a story like that would I believe it? Probably not but I am going to tell it anyway. I just laughed to myself and continued to fish. Greg had relaxed for a few minutes, had a smoke and was back fishing. He set the hook and when I saw his rod I thought it was a good fish. When he finally got her in and weighed she went 7 pounds plus. Our best fish of the day. Within ten minutes I had set the hook on a real fighter. We got her on the scales and six pounds even. That was four ounces shy of my biggest fish ever. Were we having fun yet? You bet. Chuck was catching fish and we were busy catching fish. Before we left that spot we had landed over forty fish. The smallest about 2 ½ pounds and the largest a seven pounder of Greg’s.

We finished the day with over seventy fish between 2 ½ pounds and seven pounds. Many were four and five pound fish. I have heard the fish stories just like this and now I was part of one of those stories. This was the most fun day of fishing in my entire life.

As I look back I know why it happened and none of it was an accident. We picked a guide that knew the lake we were fishing like the back of his hand. Chuck fishes this lake 300 days a year. Second, we had a guide that knew which baits would work for the conditions we were fishing. We were not experimenting. Chuck had selected lures for the day and knew one of those would produce fish. Third chuck had selected five locations that he knew would produce fish. Odds were in our favor that we would catch good fish. Why you ask? Chuck justice owns McGee creek in my opinion. We put the odds in our favor when we selected chuck justice. We had his knowledge on our side and the fish had no chance.

Sure, even a great guide will have days that are not good but they are few and far between. That is why they are guides and we are fishermen. If you want to have one of those story book days put the odds in your favor and select a professional guide to direct you to the fish. There is no way you can go to a lake fifteen or twenty times a year and hope to compete with a guide that is there 300 days a year. Chuck justice is actually part fish and McGee creek is his house.