There are places around the country where the water temperature is manipulated, allowing for a relatively small area of unique fishing opportunities. For example, some great trout fishing areas are created by utilizing the cool tail-waters below large dams. During the winter months however, anglers, and fish, may seek the warm water released from power plants.
One popular location is Sooner Lake in Oklahoma. I have heard “the colder, the better” from area anglers and have seen some great catches where the warm water from the electrical power station enters the lake. Large schools of shad are attracted to this balmy current and largemouth bass, saugeye, and channel catfish follow.
For catfish, try bait such as cut-shad or minnows rigged with a three-way swivel to lessen chance of snagging on rocky bottom. Because of the summer-like water temperatures, anglers can resort to some of their summer tactics. Shad imitating lures, spinners, and lipped plugs can be affective. Perhaps some of the hottest action is top-water and fly-fishing this lake’s abundant striper/white bass hybrids at sunrise and sunset, especially.
One of the places I’ll hit this winter is the Allegheny River below the power station near Templeton, Pennsylvania. Newton Lake in Southern Illinois is another location mentioned by blogger Jason Sealock of wired2fish.com. One way to learn if there is a warm water release fishing area near you is to check your state’s fishing guide. Often there are access rules and special regulations.
Fish are cold-blooded animals, so their metabolism rises in warmer water. Even though the angler may not be able to feel his fingers and fish in other locations would be sluggish in winter, these brief warm water areas can keep the fish actively feeding and help with the winter battle of cabin fever.
Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Oklahoma. Visit him at www.justkeepreeling.com.