Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cold Weather? No problem!

The first hard cold front of the year hit Arkansas last week and in a lot of places that sends kayak fisherman either indoors or to the deer woods. But tucked away in the northwest corner of the state is a cold weather haven for the anglers that don't want to shut it down for the year, SWEPCO Lake.

SWEPCO Lake or Lake Flint Creek is a 500 acre man made lake that supply's a power plant that sits on its eastern shoreline. The water that flows through the plant and then discharged back into the lake makes this body of water unique. The water temperature is routinely above the 70 degree mark even in the middle of winter, making a great environment for Florida strain largemouth bass to grow all year round.

I chose to head out to SWEPCO after several very cold days to scout the area for an upcoming tournament put on by the Arkansas Kayak Anglers. Every time I launch from a developed boat ramp I begin fishing for "re-treads" that have been released from the livewells of powerboats over the previous days. There is a cove immediately south of the ramp that always seems to produce so I headed there.

The wind helped me fish my way to the back of the cove. As I got into shallow water I could not spot any baitfish or bream, never a good sign. But, as I eased into the very back of the cove, I launched a weightless Goldens Fry past some submerged logs and it immediately started moving sideways. I set the hook and landed the nearly 20" largemouth pictured above. That fish proved to be a rogue bass, fishing my way out of the cove and covering several similar coves on the south end of the lake there were no more takers.

Water temps on the lower end of the lake were in the upper 60's and without any more bites I made the decision to paddle up the lake to the hot water discharge coming out of the power plant. As soon as I turned the corner into the cove where hot water enters the lake everything changed. Baitfish were everywhere, there was surface activity, and water temps jumped into the 70's.

Water temperature at the discharge (pictured left) was 76 degrees. First cast with the Golden Fry into an eddy created by some submerged rock and BOOM, fish on. I continued catching bass for just over an hour on the weightless soft plastic and a 3.5 inch swimbait retrieved along the current seams.  The sun started getting low in the sky so I decided to head back to the ramp. SWEPCO Lake is a great place to go all year, but when it gets cold, catching fish there is no problem!

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