down in texas I wouldn't think the fish actually go into full wintering mode but they might if the water temp gets down to 38 or lower ... if it gets that low the big majority of the fish will be about midlake and hanging from 30 ft to 50 ft deep on the side of ledges that the wind is blowing towards ... like if the wind has been out of the north for several days they'll be south ... like if there's a bridge or something of that nature with earthen base the fish will pile up against those sometimes hanging out at the base of those earthen structures if they have a depth of about 35 to 50 ft ... just focus your search with your color lowrance fish finder on the windblown side of those ledges and humps looking for big yellow umbrella arches and that's usually a big ole blue cat.
I'll let ya'll in on a little of tiny's secret winter big blue fishin as I don't think it'll apply to ya'lls lakes anyhow but it will give you an idea of where to start looking and what to look for, specifically. when I'm targetting just big bluecat in the winter months the main thing I start out with is wind direction for the past several days ... if the wind has been out of the south for several days I'll focus my search for big blues on the north side of the lake. if it's been out of the north for a week or more then I'll focus my search on the south side ... I've drawn up some pics using a map and put my own depths in there to show ya what I look for. Now normally on keystone (this ain't a map of keystone) when the fish are wintering they'll be anywhere from 30 ft to 50 ft and a good number of fish will be holding on the ledges ... this is what you need to find out first is where the most fish are holding and if they're in true wintering mode they'll be deeper ... like 45 to 50 ft range and here's what I do with my lowrance fish finder and my remote control trollin motor ... now if I'm searching for where the fish are holding I'll use my big motor and go about 5 mph in areas that I'm searching for the yellow fish arches, remember the article i wrote for central texas catfish club? I also posted it on tff too ... about telling the difference between catfish and scaley fish ... yellow arches is what we're looking for. so i do my initial search if I've not been out on the lake after they've went to wintering holes or I call them holes but they're not really holes ... they're ledges but some areas hold more fish than others just because of he way it's layed out or how abrupt the ledges are against their favorite depth at the time ... the more abrupt the depth change is the better they like it if it's at their comfort zone and there's food fish in the area. so we're working with south winds for several days ... water temp has been below 36 degrees for 2 weeks after a massive cold front came through and pushed the shad out of the shallow water and into deep waters ... this front happened 2 weeks ago in late december (for instance) so we know the blues have went to wintering and now we need to find out at what degree of wintering they're in ... so we search the northern end (due to the south winds) of the abrupt ledges like in this photo.
Notice the red zigzag trail across the different water depths at 50 to 60 ft .. just picture those depths at 45 to 50 where I'm zigzaging back n forth across ... this is a pattern I'd use if I've already established the majority of the fish are holding at 45 to 50 ft so with my trolling motor, NOT THE BIG OUTBOARD, i'll zigzag across these northern slopes/ledges looking for the big yellow umbrella arches ... once I've located one I'll mark it with my gps by putting a way point there and then triangulate on the fish from several different directions using my trolling motor so as to not to disturb the fish ... once I've pinpointed his position I'll nose my boat into the wind and drop my front anchor about 30 ft to the side of the fish ... if the wind is out of the south I'll get either on the east or west side with the nose of my boat into the wind about 50 ft south and 30 ft east or west ... doesn't matter if it's east or west of the fish. cause we just want to get parallel with the fish ... sometimes i'll use a bouy but those dadburned things get tangled about every time and I just try to do this without the bouys. so now we're anchored about 30 ft to the west of the fish ... dropped anchor about 50 ft north since the depth is around 50 ft and let the wind pull us back towards our waypoint with it being just on the starboard side of the boat (right side if we're 30 ft east of the fish) then I'll get out 2 to 4 rods and throw out past the fish about 20 ft so I make a 50 ft cast just to the north of the fish and then let my line out after it hits the water because if you don't the line you throw out will just pendulum under your boat so keep your spool disengaged and let the sinker and baited hook fall straight down from where you cast it just a few feet north of the fish and past him about 20 ft ... once it hits bottom you start to reel slowly until you feel like you've just went past the fish and then do this on the south side of the fish also ... then if you want to make certain you've got good coverage on the fish throw out two more rods even further north and south of the fish and drag them back towards the boat until yo feel like you've reeled past them just a few feet. set the rods in the rod holders with the drag set fairly light ... light enough that you won't rip your rod holders out of the gunwales or break the rod holders. normall with a good steady southern wind the fish will feed if you present the bait to him off bottom and right in front of his face ... he normally won't pass it up if there's not been any recent fronts come through and there's been a good southern wind for over a week ... FISH ON!
now if there's been a front come through and the wind has been out of the north for 5 to 7 days the fish will make a massive migration and they won't be on those southern ledges ... they'll move south most of the time so we'll look for fish south of where we found them when we had the south wind ... like where these red arrows are marked on the map
I have used this method several times and always did good ... I did it once this last winter with clients in the boat and we found 5 big yellow arches or fairly big anyhow ... big for keystone and we caught all 5 of them ... there was two bigguns close together and we caught both of them at the same time by doing the drag n drop proceedure on them ... that's what I call the drag n drop is when you throw your baited bottom float rig just past your target and then reel it back slowly ... when you do this you leave a little scent trail in the water and the fish will pick that up a lot quicker than if we were to just throw out and drop the bait close to them because the scent dispersal wouldn't be that great ... the scent of the fresh cut bait would be just generalized right around the area you dropped the bait ... but when you drag the bait slowly past the fish that leaves a good scent trail for the fish to track down and they will too ... they'll track it down just like an old coondog trailing a coon to it's tree. drag n drop increases your shot at these big fish dramatically. I call this method "big bluecat sniping" because you're just like a sniper looking for a single target like one shot ... one kill. I only agreed to do this this one time last winter because the fellers that went with me agreed to release any fish we caught like that that was over 15 lbs. they still ended up with a big mess of fish as we caught several others that were 12 to 13 and on down to about 5 lbs by throwing out other rods on the other side of the boat ... they wanted to take some fish home as well as hunt for big bluecat. but this is how I do it and this is the first time I've told anyone about it other than my clients. you can catch quite a few big fish like this if you can adapt this to your home waters and if they go into full wintering mode.
some have asked me when do the fish come out of wintering mode and it's always on the next flood we get ... we get a little flood of about 2 or 3 inches up the cimarron or arkansas basins and they'll come right out of the deep water and head back up to the shallow flats.
now if the water temps stay above 40 degrees like I'd suspect that texas waters do then they'll never go into a full fledged wintering pattern and they'll be actively feeding at levels around a good number of shad and this is when I'd be watching the gulls wherever I could find them and also be doing some sniping but mostly just fishing for active fish about 45 degrees is the magic number ... if the water temp stays above 45 then you should stay in a fall or spring type pattern because they won't start wintering if the water stays above 45 ... the shad will still be shallow ... the fish will feel really great in the cool water ... they'll be feeding heavily and especially on the windier days as the wind oxygenates the water and makes them feel really good and makes them active ... if you've ever noticed on dead calm days the fish just lay around mostly or won't be moving around or no fish activity on the surface at all ... looks just like glass all the way across the lake ... well this is due to the wind or lack of wind because when there's a little chop on the water then that's putting more oxygen into the water and it makes the fish feel good and the fish actually need the highly oxygenated water in order to feed .. something about their digestive abilities not being what they should in lower oxygen levels than it would be in higher oxygen levels ... this is also why the fish feed so much better in the spring, winter and fall is because the water temp is lower and the water holds lots more oxygen in the cooler temps so the fish just feel that much better in cooler waters due to the oxygen levels ... I think I'll stop there ... we'll have someone whining about my posts being too long again if I don't stop hahaha.